Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y071002

    Common knowledge, values, and perceptions of sustainable forest management held by First Nations communities
Project lead: Trosper, Ronald (University of British Columbia)
Author: Trosper, Ronald
Imprint: [BC] :, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Indians of North America, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
This proposal directly addresses Sustainability Program Priority Area 3.3 'Indicators for economic and social sustainability’, specifically area 3.3b 'Identifying patterns of values and perceptions of various stakeholder/public groups about the relative importance of social, economic and ecological factors’. The project will examine in particular the values and perceptions of First Nations in relation to these factors. However, it will extend beyond this to include area 3.3.a 'Devising appropriate methods for valuing non-timber economic values (consumptive and non-consumptive) for effective inclusion in forest and land management plans’. British Columbia has developed a 'New Relationship’ with the First Nations of the province. This contains the goal: 'To ensure that lands and resources are managed in accordance with First Nations laws, knowledge and values and that resource development is carried out in a sustainable manner including the primary responsibility of preserving healthy lands, resources and ecosystems for present and future generations’. Individual First Nations have different approaches to many issues surrounding land management. These multiple values have not been properly included, however, in assessments of the patterns of values and perceptions of stakeholder/public groups regarding the relative importance of social, political, economic and ecological factors associated with sustainable forest management. With the increasing allocation of timber harvesting rights to First Nations, it is important to have a better understanding of the aboriginal values, and for First Nations’ foresters to have an understanding of the criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management that have been identified by indigenous peoples elsewhere . This project will build on the existing relationships that have been developed with a number of First Nations groups. We have specific partner support from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (specifically the Casyex Trust), and the North Thompson Band. An objective will be to seek to forge links with up to four First Nations in total, from different regions of British Columbia. The first stage in this project will be to review previous aboriginal local level criteria and indicators (documented in Smith et al 2006) to identify potential statements to use with the Q Method to identify important patterns of support from different First Nations. We will then verify the relevance of those indicators and express them in appropriate ways based upon interviews and workshops with individual First Nations. We will identify new criteria and indicators where appropriate, drawing on the extensive indicator lists prepared as part of the BC Common Ground project. The second stage will be to identify the different priorities given to the indicators by different First Nations using Q methodology. A number of international criteria and indicator processes have already integrated aboriginal values into SFM (e.g., New Zealand, Indonesia). These perceptions are often very different from 'western’ perceptions, with a focus on a more holistic approach than is generally adopted by forest managers. For example, in New Zealand, emphasis has been placed on improved Maori wellbeing and standards of health, increased human and social capacity, strength of cultural identity, sustainable management of natural resources, and culturally appropriate strategies for economic growth (Harmsworth 2002). Similar results have been obtained by analysis of views of the Tl’azt’en First Nation in British Columbia (Sherry, et al 2005). In addition to the Tl’azt’en, Smith et al (2006) surveyed the Nuu-chah-nulth, Litte Red River Cree, Algonquins of Barriere Lake, the Waswanipi Cree, and Innu First Nations. An instrument is needed that allows both the expression of different First Nations values, and comparison of those values with and among First Nations. Using the Q methodology, one can conduct meaningful and respectful discussion at different levels within each community (elders, elected officials, land-use coordinators, etc.). Since each Nation represents a community of individuals, and each individual has a unique perspective, we will work to identify common threads in the perception of sustainable forest management and the values that are associated with it. The set of statements, ranking method, and evaluation process of the Q methodology (Addams and Proops 2000) provides an excellent and well-tested method that can address this complex topic. More than an instrument is needed, however; the results of Q surveys need to be reported back to communities for their use in decision-making. Aboriginal communities need to critique the results in the process of trying to use them for their own implementation of sustainable forest management. The research proposed here will include this crucial stage of implementation.
Related projects:  FSP_Y082002FSP_Y093002
Contact: Trosper, Ronald, (604) 822-8089,


Executive summary (16Kb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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