Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2024


Emily Belarmino

Eric Bishop von Wettberg

Marla Emery

Project Description

As we grapple with the complex and interrelated issues of widespread species extinction and global climate change, both largely driven by industrial agriculture, there is a need to investigate the relationship between food systems and conservation approaches to find solutions. Wild foods lie at the intersection of ecological and socio-cultural systems, bridge the wild and the domestic, and challenge the false dichotomy between production agriculture and conservation. Given the importance of biodiversity to the resilience of our food systems, both wild and domestic, this research serves as a scoping study to investigate key issues and areas in need of future research at the intersection of wild food harvesting and the conservation of biodiversity in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Eleven interviews were conducted with people who hunt, fish, or forage for mushrooms and plants in the Black Hills region. These interviews were analyzed utilizing a combination of inductive and deductive approaches, from which eight themes emerged. Harvesters were found to be in deep relationship with biodiversity in the Black Hills and harbored specific philosophies, values, and harvesting practices which intend to maintain or benefit the species they harvest. Harvesters are also noticing specific anthropogenic land uses as potentially threatening biodiversity and wild food harvesting in this region. Indigenous land rights and inclusion in management decisions and policy making was highlighted as a key issue at the intersection of wild food harvesting and biodiversity conservation. The loss of ecological knowledge, both held by indigenous and local people, was identified as another challenge at this intersect. Thus, the full and effective participation and collaboration with local harvesting and indigenous groups in land management planning and policymaking in the Black Hills were noted as important ways forward. Recognizing, researching, utilizing, and supporting the survival and transmission of traditional ecological knowledge held within indigenous and local wild food harvesting groups was also noted as vital to conserving both biodiversity and wild food harvesting traditions in the Black Hills.

Document Type