Farms and forests cover much of the Cascadia bioregion. How we care for these lands is key to a sustainable future. Rural land owners, managers, and workers are devising ways to work with nature, regenerating and protecting healthy soils, rich biodiversity, and clear and bountiful water. All the while, they are supporting thriving rural economies and producing healthy foods and plentiful timber.  

Unfortunately, such approaches are not yet widespread. On our farmlands, we often rely on practices that are hard on both the land and on workers. In places, these practices have eroded our soils and polluted our rivers. Agriculture could be a carbon sink, but instead it is a big emitter. In our forests, short timber harvest rotations and careless clear-cuts pollute and desiccate water sources, disrupt habitat, and imperil the most carbon-rich bioregion on earth. 

Sightline’s Farms & Forests program spotlights and supports the innovators who are restoring our working lands and rural economies. In support of them, for example, we research high-diversity farm systems that return nutrients to the soil and nurture habitat for beneficial insects, reducing the need for polluting and carbon-intensive techniques. Just so, we research improved forest management, such as extending timber harvest rotations and protecting riparian buffers, that innovators are using to boost carbon storage, nurture complex habitats, conserve water and shade, and stabilize rural employment. 

Sightline identifies the barriers that hold these innovators back. We identify and promote strategies, especially in public policy, that help Cascadia’s rural leaders scale up the solutions they are devising for the environmental economic challenges of Cascadia’s working lands.  

Meet the team

Kathryn (Kate) Anderson, Senior Researcher. Follow her on Twitter: @CollaborKate.