Building local partnerships

Published: 29 June 2021
Last edited: 29 June 2021

People who live in the Denali region are connected by their shared appreciation for the landscape, resulting in tight-knit communities. For the project to succeed, it was important that the research team establish a mutual understanding and trust based on local partnerships. These relationships have helped to ground the project in a relevant and regional context, provide insight into what matters most to local residents, and guide various phases of the project:


  1. A local Executive Committee consisting of ten stakeholders who represent a diversity of perspectives from the region was formed to build local partnerships.
  2. The project hired a local resident to be a research technician and community advocate for the project to assist with data collection, entry, project design, information dissemination, and communicating research findings.
  3. A series of informal interviews and listening sessions were conducted to start the process of creating a shared understanding of change within the Denali region.


Alliance and partnership development
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Planning phase

Enabling factors

Demonstrated time and commitment from project representatives were critical for establishing partnership building as an active process. Additionally, team leaders already had conducted previous research in the area and formed several relationships that demonstrated their ties to the area, as well as long-term investments in facilitating discussions about landscape change. 

Lessons learned

The importance of ongoing time, attention, and support that goes into building and maintaining partnerships cannot be overstated. The relationships that were initially built at the onset of the project require continual nurturing and cannot be viewed as a "checkmark" to move on from. Building partnerships also means being sensitive and responsive to locals’ ‘seasons’ in the year, for example, not asking to meet too often when it is a busy hunting or harvesting time of the year, even if this does not correspond to the busy times in the academic or management year. Additionally, efforts to build trust with different communities should likewise be approached with varying strategies. For example, something as simple as buying a cup of coffee at a locally owned business demonstrates reciprocity and investment into the well-being of the community.

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