Guardians of the Green: Indigenous Women in Forest Protection and Wildfire Management

Semi-finalist 2024

Illustration showing the role of Indigenous Women in Forest Protection and Wildfire Management
Submitted by:Sumaira Niazi
Department:Earth and Atmospheric Science

In the heart of the forest, where flames dance wild, Indigenous women stand strong as protectors of land, reconciling their ancient wisdom with the call of fire. From the boreal forests of Canada to the tropical Amazon, these remarkable women have played pivotal roles in safeguarding our forests. Yet their contributions often remain overlooked in the literature. My research endeavors to bridge this gap, shedding light on extraordinary stories of their dedication.

Indigenous women used their extensive understanding of the natural world, and traditional knowledge to predict and prepare for extreme weather events and to make the right decisions for forests’ protection. Their unceasing efforts, ranging from fighting forest fires and suing forest logging companies to small-scale cultural burning with multiple goals of crop cultivation, basket making, and buffer zone creation to lower the risk of wildfires, are what keep our forests alive. Their blood and sweat are ingrained in the very soil that sustains the biodiversity of Mother Earth. This research is just a small step toward recognizing those efforts.

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How was your image created?
This visual representation accurately reflects the findings of my extensive research regarding the crucial role of Indigenous women in protecting forests and managing wildfires. Through their cultural practices such as controlled burning around their homes, their knowledge of weather prediction through the movement of ants, expertise in basketry art, plant and species knowledge, legal advocacy against forest logging, knowledge sharing, and firefighting, Indigenous women have been instrumental in preserving our forest and this is the concept behind this image. The image was created in a series of steps using Canva, a non-AI graphic design tool known for its user-friendly interface and wide range of creative options. Beginning with ideation, I constructed the main concepts and themes that the picture aspired to express, ensuring that they were consistent with the desired message and audience. Canva made it easier to create a visually appealing image by giving a configurable platform, a large graphics collection, and user-friendly creative tools. I initially created it in Web format and then converted it to image format for submission.