Establishing a self-sustainable micro-forest on the UBC Okanagan campus

The Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (ISI) Fund has begun allocating money to successful Stream 1: Innovative Projects that will further the implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). $1.5 million was set aside to fund Innovative Projects intended to advance one of the ISP’s six priority actions.

The following article explores details about a successful Innovative Project: UBC Okanagan Indigenous Micro-Forest.

Funding Cycle2021-2022
UnitSchool of Engineering

This project proposes to establish a self-sustainable, green, biodiverse micro-forest on UBC Okanagan campus, guided by Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge to reintroduce and foster green spaces and offer mechanisms to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Project Team

Dr. Alon EisensteinAssistant Professor of Teaching, School of Engineering
Dr. Jeanette ArmstrongAssociate Professor, Department of Community, Culture and Global Studies
Renee LeboeManager of Academic Services, School of Engineering
Dr. Miranda HartProfessor, Department of Biology
Dr. Adam WeiProfessor, Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences
Dr. Susan MurchProfessor, Department of Chemistry
Dr. Jannik EikenaarAssociate Professor of Teaching, School of Engineering
Dr. Ian FouldsAssociate Professor, School of Engineering

Project Overview

The main goal of the project is to reintroduce green spaces into the built environment, while preparing for and adapting to climate change. This newly established Indigenous Micro-Forest will then provide a space for Indigenous plants and trees to flourish owing to a cross-disciplinary design with consultation and collaboration with the Syilx community, environmentalists, engineers, forestry, soil scientists, and UBC Campus Planning.  

Relying on and being guided by Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge together with climate change mitigation strategies will enable further educational and research related activities. UBC Okanagan students have the opportunity to learn about Indigenous knowledge systems and become global leaders in their advancement as they relate to environmental sciences and Indigenous languages.

Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP) Alignment

The Indigenous Micro-Forest will help recognize the integral connection of UBC with Indigenous partners, and the land on which it resides. By applying Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge, the project will enable a greater connection for UBC Okanagan students with the Syilx culture and language. Further, the educational and research activities that the Indigenous Micro-Forest will foster will enable and support research opportunities where students learn about Indigenous knowledge systems to become global leaders in their advancement specifically as they relate to environmental sciences and Indigenous languages.

The Indigenous Micro-Forest will provide opportunities for students and researchers to collaborate with Indigenous knowledge keepers to promote and develop both traditional and innovative ecological solutions.

-UBC Okanagan Indigenous Micro-Forest Project Team
Goal 5 Enriching our spaces
Enrich the UBC campus landscape with a stronger Indigenous presence.
Action 12Support research opportunities for students to become global leaders in the advancement of Indigenous knowledge systems in health, governance, education, law, business, the sciences, the arts and Indigenous languages.


Establishing an Indigenous Micro-Forest will serve as a cultural focal point for learning about Indigenous culture and language through the application of traditional ecological knowledge, making it visible and prominent on UBC Okanagan campus. In the long term, it will contribute to the overall sustainability of the UBC Okanagan campus by proactively creating a biodiverse urban ecosystem that benefits the environmental and social aspects of campus living.

Environmentally, the Indigenous Micro-Forest increases the carbon sequestering capacity of the campus, thereby offsetting the negative impact of human activity on the land. The biodiversity of the micro-forest will support native wildlife counteracting the impact of increasing urbanization. Socially, the creation of a permaculture urban forest, through its air purification attributes, will benefit the campus community’s health and wellbeing. The Indigenous Micro-Forest also recognizes the integral connection of UBC with Indigenous partners, and the land with which it resides.