Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y092271

    Evaluating the Ecological, Economic, and Social Trade-Offs of Managing for Valued Plants and Other Non-Timber Forest Products
Project lead: Pinkerton, Evelyn (Simon Fraser University)
Author: Pinkerton, Evelyn
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The wide variety of plants used traditionally by First Nations people, and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in general, have not been well represented in forest management. We propose to explore the ecological, economic, and social consequences of varying harvest, retention and post-harvest treatments which include these Aboriginal values, and to evaluate the trade-offs involved in doing so.
Our main objective is to measure and compare the effects of four different forest practices on food and medicinal plants highly valued by First Nations in interior British Columbia, in order to create reasonable management targets for these species. We conceptualize “reasonable targets” in terms of both population and habitat levels negotiated as management trade-offs among specific uses and values, especially the value attached to commercial timber harvest by First Nations on their own tenures. Thus the research will examine how varying types and intensities of forest disturbance, natural and silvicultural, are linked to the distribution and productivity of traditionally valued plants. We will assess these outcomes first in ecological terms by asking how many valued plant species and how much commercial timber were available under each management scenario.
Second, we will assess the direct economic costs and benefits of the four management scenarios by calculating, for example, the cost of specific management actions taken and the costs of foregone timber harvest in relation to the direct economic benefits of timber harvest. An analysis of these direct costs and benefits will be presented to First Nations communities, and their neighbours who work jointly on a community forest, alongside an analysis of the regeneration of food and medicinal plants in each scenario. These communities will be asked to consider (1) how much they value traditionally-used plants in relation to how much they value timber harvest and (2) which of the four scenarios most closely approximates the trade-off they prefer between the two values. We will extend the analysis to other NTFPs where practical and cost-effective.
The research is intended to test the hypothesis of Jim McGrath, forester for the Kamloops Indian Band (KIB), that one of the four treatments can optimize both economic value from timber harvest and also the regeneration of traditionally valued forest plants. This treatment consists of (1) logging which leaves 20 stems per hectare, followed by a light burn to release seeds, promoting natural regeneration. This treatment will be compared to three others: (2) conventional clearcut logging with replanting, (3) unlogged wildfire-burned areas which are untouched, and (4) the same unlogged wildfire-burned areas in which the remaining trees were clearcut, and 30% of the area replanted. Wildfires are included to explore the extent to which controlled burns produce plant responses similar to the low-intensity portions of wildfires, and to involve aboriginal elders in a positive search for alternative forest practices which include their values and mimic their traditional practices. Currently elders and many other community members perceive industrial forest practices negatively, while perceiving wildfires and traditional aboriginal burning practices as acceptable. We expect this research to reduce tensions and create dialogue between First Nations who persist in traditional burning practices and MoFR staff attempting to suppress or discourage such practices. The research will allow aboriginal communities and industry as a whole to consider possible choices from a more informed position.
Whether or not McGrath’s hypothesis is confirmed, the research will generate information on plant responses to the four treatments, and offer clues about the causal relationships involved -- because of the location and nature of plant communities which emerge, especially their proximity to remaining trees. Elders will assist in generating hypotheses about these causal relationships by identifying unusual occurrences in plants which appear and in plants which are unexpectedly absent. Findings will enable a preliminary setting of management targets, and the first stages of identifying corresponding ecological indicators for how to sustain important species and ecological relationships.
We will undertake this research through collaboration among a number of partners who can provide focused expertise on its diverse components. The Kamloops Indian Band (KIB), and affiliates through its forestry network, have the expertise and authorization to apply different experimental disturbance regimes across comparable timber stands. Their silvicultural crew will lay out the plots for data collection. Ken Lertzman, a SFU forest ecologist with expertise in stand dynamics, disturbance ecology, and alternative silvicultural systems, will contribute to refining the research design and post-treatment strategies for data collection and analysis. Community values will be integrated into the calculations by a forest economist, Shashi Kant, who will implement a questionnaire and apply valuation methodologies to establish values for culturally important plants for use in negotiating trade-offs. A social science student assisting in the ecological data collection will integrate elders’ knowledge of plants and traditional burning practices to assist in the analysis of what might constitute an optimal light burn.
SFU anthropologist Marianne Ignace speaks fluent Secwepemc, and lives with her husband Ron Ignace, currently chief of the Skeetchestn Band, which has insisted on continuing its traditional burning practices. She is the Academic Coordinator of SFU’s Kamloops Campus, which partners with the KIB in the delivery of educational programs. Working with the KIB’s Forestry Corporation, and with FORREX, she will assist band leaders in engaging the communities in the discussion of the cultural value of relevant plants and how traditional burning practices might be integrated into trade-off analysis.
In order to make this trade-off exercise more broadly applicable, the research partners will work with the Lower North Thompson Community Forest. In making this jointly managed community forest the site of the valuation and trade-offs, as well as industry members of the Sustainable Forest Management Planning Committee for the Kamloops TSA, we will also be addressing the broader question of how to structure effective multi-stakeholder processes.
This work builds on and complements the research of Andre Arsenault, Walt Klenner, and Dennis Lloyd in the Kamloops MoFR Region, of Lyn Baldwin (Thompson Rivers U.) and Gary Bradfield (UBC), of Nancy Turner (U.Vic), Leslie Johnson (U. Alberta) et al. on aboriginal burning, and of Robert Gray and Jennifer Morrison on indigenous fire management. It is innovative in integrating key aspects of research on ethnobotany, plant ecology, alternative silviculture, aboriginal fire management, and wildfires.
Related projects:  FSP_Y081271FSP_Y103271

Executive summary (6Kb)

Updated August 16, 2010 

Search for other  FIA reports or other Ministry of Forests and Range publications.

Please direct questions or comments regarding publications to