Scientists & Staff

Marla Emery

Research Geographer
Aiken Center, Room 303E; 81 Carrigan Drive
Burlington, VT, 05405
Phone: 802-656-1720

Contact Marla Emery

Current Research

The role of forests in providing food and sustaining cultures. Sustainable use of wild species in regional, national, and international contexts.

Research Interests

Dr. Emery studies contemporary uses of wild plants and mushrooms in rural and urban settings in the United States, with particular emphasis on New Americans and First Americans (the latter in partnership with federally recognized tribes and Native peoples). In addition to identifying species being foraged today, this research examines the actual practices of contemporary foraging, the ecosystem services they provide, and their implications for forest management.

Dr. Emery is Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which brings together more than 80 scientists from around the world to provide policy makers with the state-of-the-knowledge on factors that support sustainable use of wild animals, mushrooms, and plants.

Why This Research is Important

National forests and other forest land managers need information about contemporary uses of wild plants and mushrooms that is currently lacking in order to: (a) manage foraging to meet the goal of caring for the land and serving people, and (b) honor the federal government's Trust Responsibility to tribes and Native peoples.

National and international policy makers need access to the best available science and indigenous and local knowledge to address current trends in loss of biodiversity while realizing sustainable development goals.


  • Rutgers University, Ph.D. Geography, 1998

Professional Experience

  • Co-Chair, Assessment of Sustainable Use of Wild Species, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiveristy and Ecosystem Services 2018 - Current
  • Research Geographer, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service 1998 - Current

Professional Organizations

  • Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) (2018 - Current)
  • International Society of Ethnobiology (2015 - Current)
  • Association of American Geographers
  • International Association for Society and Natural Resources

Awards & Recognition

  • Northern Forest Futures Project award, 2016
  • Northern Research Station, Meeting America's Needs Award, 2011
  • USFS Northern Research Station Award for research on Sustaining Forests and Grasslands, 2010
  • Donald Q. Innis Award for Research Excellence awarded by the Association of American Geographers, 2010 Rural Geography Specialty Group
  • Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, 2003 Mexico, 2003 - 2004
  • Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, Mexico, 2003 - 2004, 2003
  • Special Recognition, Contribution to National Report on Sustainable Forests , 2003
  • Association of American Geographers, Student Paper Award, 1997 Rural Development Specialty Group
  • Extra Effort Award, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, 1997 "In recognition of award-winning paper 'Rainforest Crunch from Michigan: Non-Timber Forest Products and Household Livelihoods in a Northern Latitude'"
  • Special Service Award, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, 1997 "For leadership in defining the role of social science research at the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station"
  • Special Service Award, Forest Service Research, 1993 for contributions to the Forest Fire and Atmospheric Sciences Research staff
  • Special Service Award, Forest Service Research, 1992 for contributions to the Forest Fire and Atmospheric Sciences Research staff

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Paper birch trees with evidence of bark harvesting. USDA Forest Service

Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Natural Resource Inventories and Management of Paper Birch Trees

Year: 2015

The “Paper Birch in the Great Lakes” project is a collaborative effort to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into research and natural resource management. The paper birch resource in the Great Lakes has decreased steadily since 1980. Forest Service scientists are working to provide a model for future targeted inventory efforts; an example of how to build successful partnerships incorporating TEK into natural resource science and management; and information to develop strategies for managing paper birch in the Great Lakes.

Cover image for Natural Inquirer issue

Forest Service Research on Morel Mushrooms Featured in Natural Inquirer

Year: 2014

The Natural Inquirer's monograph series for middle school students and educators showcased a Forest Service researcher's work on local knowledge of morel mushroom types, habitat, and disturbance.

Tom and Tina Tossing a Log in the River. Therese Poland, Forest Service

Reducing Negative Cultural Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer: Saving Black Ash Wood for Native American Basketmakers

Year: 2011

Black ash has great cultural and economic importance in the northeastern United States, especially for Native Americans. The widespread destruction and removal of black ash in response to an emerald ash borer (EAB) find is a painful prospect for tribes and basket-makers. An innovative collaboration between a Forest Service geographer and entomologist combining traditional knowledge with scientific expertise has found that a traditional practice offers a reasonable solution for those who depend on black ash splints.

Last modified: Wednesday, August 26, 2020