Framework for Measuring the Success of Indigenous peoples'
Forest-based Economic Development in Canada
Smith, Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment, Lakehead
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada, Indigenous Peoples' rights are constitutionally recognized
and a responsibility of the national government. These rights
are integrally tied to Indigenous Peoples' use of lands and resources
and, in the case of forest resources, are concerned mainly with
land uses associated with forest resource harvesting, including
wildlife and non-timber forest products. Most Indigenous traditional
economies in Canada were built on forest resources and involved
a complex set of institutions governing the relationships among
forest users. After colonization, forest management became the
constitutional responsibility of provincial governments. Timber
harvesting for commodity products -dimensional lumber and pulp
and paper - transformed Canadian forests into industrial production
yards. The institutional systems constructed by provinces to regulate
timber harvesting occurring on publicly owned forest lands supported
industrial production. Access to timber resources is controlled
by provincial governments, which assign exclusive, long-term,
large area licenses to private companies.
the process of privatizing the natural resources on public lands,
Indigenous communities have historically and systematically had
their access to these lands and resources limited, even though
they maintained an interest in these lands - either an outright
form of ownership ("Aboriginal title") or land use recognized
through government-to-government agreements, such as treaties.
As a result of Indigenous peoples' systemic exclusion from industrial
development, many forest-based Indigenous communities in Canada
suffer severe underdevelopment with high unemployment and social
problems are commonplace. The issue of Indigenous Peoples' access
to these lands - over 80% of Indigenous communities in Canada
are located in the commercial forest zone (Gysbers and Lee 2003)
- is such that the development and maintenance of local economies
has been the source of longstanding conflict between Indigenous
Peoples and the state in Canada.
An example of the industrial production yards into which Canadian
forests have been transformed. This site is in the interior
of British Columbia. Photo: Peggy Smith
This article will explore some of the current theoretical and
practical approaches to economic development, Indigenous peoples'
economic development in general, and Indigenous peoples' forest-based
development in Canada in particular1. Some of the methodological challenges of carrying out research
of this nature are addressed. Finally, a comprehensive framework
is suggested to assess the success of Indigenous peoples' forest-based
economic development. Cultural sustainability is added as a critical
component of the sustainable forest management paradigm that already
considers economic, social and environmental indicators. The link
between community health and well-being and successful economic
development is a critical one, but in order to understand the
link, a different set of indicators than simply "jobs and
income"or profit (Cornell and Kalt 1998) needs to be developed
to assess the success of Indigenous forest-based economic enterprises.
Another essential aspect of the assessment of Indigenous peoples'
development is the recognition of their unique rights, which is
needed to provide the foundation for their autonomous development.
This recognition and respect for Indigenous rights will necessitate
institutional change, including new rules for access to lands
and resources and new forms of decision-making to ensure that
Indigenous peoples are able to determine the nature, form and
extent of economic development. This comprehensive framework is
being tested in case studies in Ontario and Quebec and within
a larger national research project that is also examining national
socio-economic indicators for Indigenous communities based on
It is helpful when analyzing the success of Indigenous peoples'
forest-based economic development to place development theories
into two broad categories: determinism and human agency or contingency
(Anderson 1997). Theories in the deterministic category leave
little room for actors, especially "underdeveloped"groups (be they third world countries, or the fourth world, as
Indigenous peoples have been termed), to chart their own course.
These theories state that development takes a predictable and
predestined path and that certain steps must be followed to achieve
"success". In the human agency category, there is room
for actors to influence the nature and direction of development.
Both categories of theories have been applied to Indigenous peoples'
economic development. Increasingly, as Indigenous peoples rebel
against state-imposed solutions designed to improve their development
and make their own choices about their future, they are turning
to theories that embrace the notion of human agency.
(1994) reviewed the literature on the impact of major resource
developments on Indigenous communities in Canada for the Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the most comprehensive examination
in Canadian history of the status of Aboriginal peoples. In his
review he raised some of the essential questions that Indigenous
peoples face in making choices about natural resource-based economic
Aboriginal people participate in industrial capitalism and do
so in a way that respects and is in keeping with traditional
values? Can values oriented more toward the collective than
the individual survive in an industrial environment if participation
in a project is organized at the collective level? To what extent
are community values compromised if the environment and the
well-being of future generations are put at risk?
school of thought is that such questions are frivolous and the
real issue is to bring economic development of any kind to "underdeveloped"
regions. Economic development in and of itself will solve the
social ills of Indigenous communities. Industrial capitalism with
its wealth generation will provide the necessary resources to
bring jobs, income and profit to counteract poverty, unemployment,
lack of education and poor health, if only the underdeveloped
region follows the set path. Another school contends that mere
"jobs and income" does not necessarily ensure healthy
community development and, in fact, the recognition of Indigenous
rights or some form of sovereignty is essential for the successful
economic development of Indigenous communities - this is
the "nation building" approach of the Harvard Project
on American Indian Economic Development (Cornell and Kalt 1998).
Modernist and dependency theorists argue that it is futile to
go against industrial capitalism. Modernist theories, popular
following World War II to promote third world "development"
, described development as necessarily progressing through set
stages to the inevitable and desirable goal of industrial capitalism.
Anderson and Giberson (2004), in their review of theoretical perspectives,
describe one view: "... a developing country or region passes
through a series of stages during which its people build economic
capacity, shed traditional and adopt modern ways, and from which
they emerge as fully modern, prosperous states." On the other
side of the coin, dependency theorists, who emerged to oppose
modernist theories, explained that development did not follow
the modernists' inevitable stages and many regions remained
in poverty. Their rationale for this was that:
those groups late in joining the capitalist system can expect,
at best, chronic poverty allayed to some degree by incomplete
development. A newly developing region will remain a captive
to the developed core with its economic activity controlled
by, and subservient to that core - in essence, under the dependency
theory it is too late for Aboriginal people to "join the
club" as a full member. (Anderson and Giberson 2004)
theories about global capitalism explain that firms will move
toward vertical production, "from resource extraction to
the final product, being subdivided into subprocesses which are
assigned to whichever part of the world can provide the most profitable
combination of natural resources, capital and labour" (Tykkyläinen
1999). In this system, regions are held hostage to the vagaries
of global capitalism.
For Indigenous communities in Canada, these deterministic theories
would lead them away from traditionally based forest economies
to full integration into global capitalism. However, this has
not been the case. As Usher (2003) points out:
so long ago, the prevailing view among social scientists and
policy makers was that industrial development in the North would
induce Aboriginal people to leave their camps and villages for
major resource development sites or planned development nodes.
Emigration from the traditional economy (which would simply
wither away) to the new economy would thus be the key route
to modernisation and acculturation…. In fact, what emerged
(or persisted) in Aboriginal communities all across the North,
was a mixed, subsistence-based economy that integrates two spheres
of activity, institutions and practices: market and subsistence,
brought together, not simply side by side in a class-divided
village, but directly within the household. Production and consumption
are combined in one basic unit, the household, which functions
in effect as a microenterprise.
much choice, then, can Indigenous communities exercise in determining
the nature of their development? Wutunee' s (1992, 2005)
stated interest in Indigenous economic development, business and
entrepreneurship has centered on "what choices will be made
to meet community and individual goals". She has focused
on case studies of entrepreneurship in Indigenous northern communities
and noted that there has been a "shift away from primary
resource industries to information and service industries"
(1992: 4). Her emphasis is on small and medium enterprises. In
her latest book, Living Rhythms (2005), she too raises questions
similar to DesBrisay (1994) about the direction of Indigenous
we want communities where the environment is cherished and elders
and traditions honoured, or will we try to maximize our returns
on investment? Are these objectives mutually exclusive? What does
it mean to us to participate meaningfully in the economy? What
are the benefits, and what are the costs?
Anderson and Giberson (2004) offer regulation theory as one that
emphasizes contingency and human agency. They define regulation
as "the complex and ever evolving set of "things"
that shape and guide the capitalist economy and "preserve
it, for some time at least, from catastrophic internal collisions
and breakdowns". In regulation theory, each regime of accumulation
may be regulated in any number of ways, each unique to local conditions
and subject to human choices.
economists have also focused on human agency. In the Harvard Project
on American Indian Economic Development, Cornell and Kalt (1995)
used collective action theory, in particular the institutions
of government, to explain economic development and well-being.
They explain institutions as collective goods and point to the
limitations of neoclassical economic analysis in explaining the
non-coercive emergence, persistence and evolution of institutions
of government. The results of over 10 years of studying mainly
tribal economic development in the United States have led the
Harvard Project to conclude that for Indigenous communities culture,
sovereignty and institutions matter. The Harvard approach has
inspired similar studies in Canada. In a series of reports by
the National Aboriginal Forestry Association and the Institute
on Governance (2000), sponsored by the federal First Nations Forestry
Program, the success of Indigenous/corporate forest-based partnerships
was explored, considering in addition to the bottom line of profitability
the impact of Indigenous rights, culture and land tenure.
Even though the sustainable development approach, popularized
by Brundtland following the World Commission on Sustainable Development
in 1987, has been adopted worldwide, development continues to
be assessed against narrow economic criteria. These criteria are
based on the assumption that the accumulation of capital, whether
financial, natural or human, is the basis for economic growth.
This leads to assessments of development based on economic indicators
such as profitability for individual businesses, increases in
gross national product for nation states, or employment levels
for communities, indicators which, for the most part, neglect
social, environmental and cultural dimensions. As Sen (1999:14)
argues in linking "freedom" with development:
is as important to recognize the crucial role of wealth in determining
living conditions and the quality of life, as it is to understand
the qualified and contingent nature of this relationship. An
adequate conception of development must go beyond the accumulation
of wealth and the growth of gross national product and other
income-related variables. Without ignoring the importance of
economic growth, we must look well beyond it.
The sustainable development or sustainable forest management paradigm
does this by treating all three pillars - social, economic and
environmental - as key components. For Indigenous communities,
it has been argued that sustainable development should include
recognition of their rights, culture and aspirations for self-determination.
Mulvihill and Jacobs (1991) argue that the conditions for self-reliance
of Indigenous communities include self-determination, decolonization,
appropriate institutions and sustainable development. They emphasize
that, to achieve sustainable development, it is essential to have
Indigenous knowledge to deal with the complexity and periodicity
of northern ecosystems, interdependence based on mutual learning
and intergenerational equity.
(2000) too points to Indigenous efforts to explore alternative
development paths in keeping with the concepts of sustainable
development: "Fourth World peoples in advanced industrial
societies are asserting their right of self-determined development.
They are questioning the wisdom of Western paths, and looking
for guidance to the recovery of traditional perspectives."
important to Indigenous communities, and frequently subsumed under
the social pillar of the sustainable development paradigm, consideration
of culture is integral to defining Indigenous peoples and protecting
their way of life. Modernist theorists argue that traditional
cultures must be left behind to embrace modern industrial capitalism,
but as early as 1954, Merrill was pointing to the Maori as an
example of a non-Western people that was "able to carry
out fairly extensive economic changes in a culture that had few
of the institutions usually considered necessary for executing
such tasks and which, moreover, had many institutions one would
think would strongly inhibit economic growth". The institutions
he refers to are: "kinship control of productive resources
including land, the organization of production and distribution
on the basis of kinship groups, and orientation of economic activity
toward group generosity and not toward individual accumulation
of wealth" (Merril 1954).
agency or contingency theories lend themselves to a fuller exploration
of the potential of Indigenous societies to control development
within their own cultural perspectives, integrating social, economic
and environmental concerns. Research to assess the success of
Indigenous economic development, especially forest-based development
that is so dependent on the maintenance of forest productivity
and health, should explore these agency theories. The sustainable
development paradigm is especially appropriate. However, this
is not an easy task. Several methodological challenges arise in
conducting such research.
There are several methodological challenges in conducting research
to assess the success of Indigenous peoples' forest-based economic
development. These include the quality and availability of data
for Indigenous communities, choosing the unit of analysis, working
in a multidisciplinary team, applying participatory approaches
with Indigenous communities and understanding the interactions
among social, environmental and economic indicators.
State of Data on Aboriginal
The first question that must be
addressed in assessing the success of Indigenous peoples' economic
development is who determines "success"? Forest-based
economic development involves a number of different actors: Indigenous
people, from the business owner who may be a local entrepreneur
or the community government itself to internal governance bodies
like economic development officers or development corporations;
forest industry partners and their representative organizations;
government departments, both national and regional, that provide
incentives and through programming often determine the nature,
direction and amount of funding available; and other "stakeholders"
who have a range of competing interests in the development of
public forests, from conservation to recreation to industrial
development. The involvement of competing interests then leads
to another important question: what are the indicators of success?
In determining the indicators
of success and who should determine them, Indigenous people have
historically been left out of consideration largely because economic
development policies have been centrally controlled through political
and bureaucratic initiatives (Anderson 1997). Today, with the
growing Indigenous movement for self-determination, it is becoming
more evident that, first and foremost, it is Indigenous people
themselves who must determine "success".
Youth at Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario have
participated in an almost two-year blockade of logging roads in
their traditional territory, protesting the practices of a multinational
company granted a license by the province of Ontario to harvest
timber and manage the forest. Source: Thunder Bay Independent
effort should be undertaken to engage First Nations 2 in defining success. What is it that First Nations are looking
for in terms of economic development? Is it jobs, and if so, what
type? Is it wealth generation, and if so, how is this wealth to
be distributed? Is success to be defined by the quality of socio-economic
infrastructure in First Nations? There is a long series of questions
to be asked but there has to be a concrete and common understanding
as to what constitutes success and what measures will be tracked
to determine whether the desired results are being achieved (Shanks
Given that these questions are only beginning to be addressed,
the measures to be tracked are still undefined. As a first step,
the discussion about success must take place with Indigenous people
and this will necessitate a qualitative approach.
for the quantitative data available, statistics on Indigenous
peoples' development in Canada are notoriously unreliable. Data
that looks at Aboriginal land use and participation in the forest
sector is poor. Baseline data are often non-existent. 3 Until such data
are available, it is impossible to get a full understanding of
the impact of industrial forest operations on Aboriginal communities
or to get a measure of the true value of Aboriginal subsistence
or commercial activities, particularly for non-timber uses or
to protect those values that forest managers now recognize are
uniquely important to Aboriginal Peoples, including cultural and
spiritual sites. The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers has
reflected on the inadequacy of the data available since it set
in place its original Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable
Forest Management (CCFM 1995) and began to try and measure
compliance with the commitments they contained (CCFM 1997; 2000).
the release of the CCFM' s National Status 2000 report
a few years later -"a first attempt to report on sustainable
forest management" - not much had changed. This report
also discussed the inadequacy or lack of available data. The report
for the indicators on Aboriginal participation, in particular
the extent of Aboriginal participation in forest-based economic
opportunities, stated: "comprehensive national data are
not available" and "the only data collection
that does take place is on an ad hoc basis." For the
indicator on the "number of Aboriginal communities with a
significant forestry component in their economic base and diversity
of forest use," employment data collected by Aboriginal Business
Canada (an arm of the federal Industry Canada) and Statistics
Canada led to the conclusion that only seven of 750 Aboriginal
Census Subdivisions were found to be forest-dependent. Given that
approximately 80% of Aboriginal communities are within the commercial
forest region of Canada, common sense belies this conclusion.
Obviously something is awry with the "economic base method"
used to come up with this measure. The report did acknowledge
that other studies show that "dependence on the forest
is greater than typically captured by forest industry dependence
measures" (Korber 1997, cited in CCFM 2000: 97).
a review of the CCFM in 2003, a reduction of the original 83 indicators
to 53 was recommended after an assessment of: 1) relevance to
the criterion; 2) measurability based on scientifically valid,
empirical measurements that can be consistently repeated over
time, with data that are both practical and physically feasible
to collect; 3) understandability, not only to forest managers,
but also to an informed public; 4) ability to be forecast into
the future with reasonable accuracy; and, 5) whether or not reference
values could be determined for the indicator.
the challenges described above from the CCFM technical progress
reports of 1997 and 2000, and using the review assessment criteria,
the revised C&I (CCFM 2003) addressed Indigenous people' s
participation in forest-based economic development under Forest
Community Well-being and Resilience. The preamble to this element
notes that "unsustainable resource practices have the potential
to result in high social costs concentrated among residents of
rural communities" and that many of these are "Aboriginal
communities that are surrounded by forests and are dependent on
the forest for their economic and social well-being." To
assess this, the CCFM, except for the indicator on "education
attainment levels in forest-based communities", takes a "jobs
and income" approach, with indicators on: "economic
diversity index", "employment rate" and "incidence
of low income."
way of addressing the challenges inherent in the quality and availability
of data and the historical exclusion of Indigenous peoples in
defining the nature of success is to combine qualitative and quantitative
methods. Qualitative methods in which Indigenous people are engaged
in discussions about their definitions of success and these results
are then compared with other stakeholders, including business
partners, will bring some balance to assessments and give an Indigenous
perspective on the definition of success. To improve the quality
and availability of data, there will have to be a commitment from
both governments committed to tracking sustainable forest management
and from Indigenous peoples themselves to participate in the collection
of census data on which to base statistical information about
the nature of economic development.
the Unit of Analysis
Another methodological challenge in assessing Indigenous peoples'
forest-based economic development is choosing the unit of analysis.
There are a number of possible choices: the individual (entrepreneur,
the firm or worker), the joint venture or partnership, the household,
the community or the nation.
addition to the economic base method with its measures of forest
dependence through jobs and income, classical assessments of the
success of economic development have also focused on the business,
either on the firm or the entrepreneur. If businesses are small
in size or are in business for only a short term - a common problem
in the boom-and-bust cycles of the forest sector - then tracking
these businesses becomes very difficult. In the case of individual
waged workers or contractors, because Aboriginal peoples have
only partially participated in Canada' s national census taking
and because self-identification of race is voluntary, it is very
difficult to get an accurate picture of the number of Aboriginal
people employed in the forest sector. Another issue with tracking
individual success is that for many Indigenous communities their
criteria for success might not focus on the individual, but more
on community well-being. Studies that focus exclusively on the
individual deny the collective nature of most Indigenous communities
and focus on individual profit rather than community well-being.
Indigenous communities, because of a lack of capacity - with regards
human, capital and natural resources - many forest-based enterprises
are developed in partnership with existing forest companies. Joint
ventures are seen as a means to address the strengths and weaknesses
of both parties. The venture itself is assessed in these cases,
with a focus on the business-to-business relationship in which
community aspirations are not necessarily considered. The tendency
in Canada has been to focus on joint ventures because they are
often highly publicized and because of the participation of large,
multinational forestry firms, information about their operations
is easier to attain.
choice for the unit of analysis is the household. Household analyses
tend to focus on the mixed economy and kinship-based systems,
exploring not just a particular business venture but the range
of a household' s involvement in forest-based activities. However,
such studies, as comprehensive as they are, are time-consuming
and expensive. These studies also relate to a specific community
and results may not be able to be generalized to other communities.
researching households is an expensive and time-consuming method,
choosing the community as the unit of analysis is also. For a
comprehensive approach, researchers need to interview and/or observe
a cross-section of community members from the grassroots to leadership
to the individual entrepreneur. No community is monolithic and
there will be varying interpretations of success of forest-based
economic development. To gain a sense of the range of that variation,
a case study approach with interviews of several key actors within
the community would be necessary.
many studies of economic development have focused on the nation
state, particularly underdeveloped nations. For Indigenous peoples,
in their move toward self-determination, there has been a focus
on "the nation" (RCAP 1996). However, in the absence
of negotiated understandings with existing nation states, and
given the semi-dependent relationship of most Indigenous communities
within nation states, studies with the Indigenous nation as the
unit of analysis are rare.
in a Multidisciplinary Team
The challenges of the quality and availability of data and choosing
the unit of analysis are only confounded by the challenge of working
in a multidisciplinary team of social foresters, economists and
political scientists with an advisory committee with representatives
from academia, the forest private sector and Indigenous organizations.
All academic disciplines come in their restrictive boxes with
their distinct disciplinary approaches, theories and terminology.
With a national study, different provincial policy regimes, private
company practices and Indigenous community approaches make choices
particularly complex, given the need to account for the diversity
in approaches while seeking common threads. Making choices, reconciling
values and getting the work done with a multidisciplinary team
conjures up a too-many-cooks scenario that can lead to problems
with "deliverables" and deadlines. With the commitment
to ensuring that research results are applied, advisory committees
have become a tool to guide this work, but on the other hand,
can add further complexity.
a Participatory Approach
Research of this nature is undertaken for many reasons, but foremost
is to understand and redress the historic injustices toward Indigenous
peoples. To improve the status of Indigenous communities and their
well-being related to forest-based economic development, there
must be capacity and willingness on the part of both Indigenous
communities and forest companies to participate.
most potential participants agree that the research goals are
laudable, there are many factors that hinder participation. Given
the historic exclusion of Indigenous peoples from the forest sector,
there is mutual suspicion on the part of both Indigenous communities
and forest companies. For some participants who have broken through
this suspicion and developed a working relationship, there is
often the fear of jeopardizing these tentative relationships.
And for others, they are just too busy and too understaffed to
participate! For researchers, academics are often removed from
a practical understanding of the history, complexity, different
points of view and people in Indigenous communities.
Response to the Methodological Challenges
To address these methodological challenges, the research team
chose a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. A workshop
early in the project with the research team and advisory committee
helped to clarify the challenges and approaches. 4 Existing statistics will be analysed. Previous studies conducted
in Canada will provide a solid base upon which to refine the results
(NAFA/IOG; Hickey and Nelson 2005; SFMN Synthesis Report). To
understand the success of forest-based businesses a survey focused
on partnerships is being conducted with a focus on the joint venture
in which both forest companies and Indigenous community representatives
will be interviewed. A number of case studies will be conducted
moving the focus from the business to the community and its context
to gain a fuller picture of the criteria for success. It is with
the case studies that a more integrated approach can be used.
for Measuring the Success of Indigenous peoples' Forest-based
community well-being framework takes into account the sustainable
forest management (SFM) paradigm that attempts to integrate economic,
social and environmental considerations. Given the particular
historic and political conditions of Indigenous communities, it
is necessary to expand the SFM paradigm to include culture and
to recognize the essential element of Indigenous rights. Figure
1 tries to capture the interplay of the four elements - economic,
cultural, social and economic - across different scales - from
local, regional, national to global. The four directions is a
modification of the medicine wheel used by some Indigenous peoples
to capture their holistic worldview showing the connection among
elements. It relates to aspects of Indigenous peoples' rights
and responsibilities - self-determination, capacity building,
jurisdiction, autonomy and stewardship of lands and resources
and community well-being.
such a framework provide a more comprehensive examination of the
success of Indigenous peoples' forest-based economic development?
What criteria for success would need to be assessed under such
a framework? How is it possible to move from a single indicator
approach - measuring jobs and income or environmental sustainability
- to understanding the interaction of all elements and the potential
trade-offs among them? Under whose direction are such decisions
to be made? Table 1 outlines some of the criteria for measuring
the "success" of First Nations' sustainable forest-based
economic development. Community well-being and satisfaction are
shown as the outcome of an approach that combines environmental,
social, cultural and economic criteria, founded on the recognition
of Indigenous rights with the parallel appropriate institutional
development to reflect the framework.
1: Indigenous Peoples, Rights and Sustainable Development.
well-being and satisfaction as an outcome encapsulates meeting
the basic human needs of food, clothing and shelter, but goes
beyond this to reflect the aspirations of Indigenous communities
for self-determination and self-governance. The core of the framework
is the three pillars of sustainable forest management - economic,
environmental and social criteria - with the addition of a cultural
foundation of the framework is the recognition, respect and accommodation
of Indigenous rights. In Canada, Indigenous peoples still assert
their inherent rights and sovereignty within the Canadian nation
state. This assertion of sovereignty is the basis for self-determination.
There have been a number of different formal agreements between
the Canadian state and Indigenous peoples in which the state interprets
that Indigenous rights have been limited or extinguished. However,
Indigenous people assert that their rights cannot be extinguished
and therefore continue in spite of agreements. These agreements
include historic treaties and modern land claims. In some areas
of Canada, such agreements are still being negotiated and in those
cases, Indigenous title or ownership continues.
recognition of Indigenous rights necessitates the joint development
between Indigenous peoples and the state of new institutions for
the management and use of forest resources. Such institutional
arrangements might include shared decision-making, ranging from
advisory to consent and control, including joint decision-making
or "co-management". Mechanisms for conflict resolution,
assessment and monitoring would be important for adaptation over
1: Criteria by which to assess success of First Nations'
sustainable forest-based economic development
needs (food, shelter, clothing), self-sufficiency, self-governance,
adequate standard of living, high employment, fair distribution
of economic benefits across households, cultural integrity,
education, political stability, access to lands &
resources, sustainable forest management
FOREST MANAGEMENT ELEMENTS
Sustainable extraction of renewable resource (amount and
rate of extraction)
Maintenance of habitat for all users, including wildlife
income & profit
Mixed economy with both traditional land uses and cash
(education and skills, ability to hire resource managers
Increased community stability
Improved individual & community health
of way of life
respect, protection and accommodation of Aboriginal &
treaty rights = sovereignty or self-government
Rights are inherent, cannot be extinguished and so apply
to all areas: historic treaties, modern land claims, title
decision-making (ranging from advisory to consent &
control, including joint decision-making or "co-management)
Assessment and monitoring
the environmental criteria, the condition of the forest (Ostrom
1999) as a result of resource exploitation, either through industrial
extraction or traditional use, can be measured by the amount and
rate of extraction and, important for Indigenous communities with
traditional subsistence as part of their economies, maintenance
of habitat, especially for wildlife.
the economic criteria, classical measures of jobs, income and
profit are important. However, given the recognition of Indigenous
rights and shared control with the state, revenue-sharing of resource
rents would also be a measure of success. In order to maintain
traditional forest use and the cultural aspect that is so connected
to that use, the maintenance of a mixed economy with both traditional
forest land uses and a cash economy based on industrial extraction
should be considered.
the social arena, one of the impacts of the exclusion of Indigenous
communities from the industrial forest-based sector has been the
lack of skills to participate. An increase in forest business
and management skills, gained both practically and through formal
education, and the ability of Indigenous communities to hire resource
and business managers is a good criterion to measure change over
time. It has been posited that the well-being of the community
and individuals within it are integrally tied to the health of
the land. Although difficult to prove a causal relationship, there
have been some studies in Canada that explored the link between
environmental and human health. In a study by Usher (2003:370),
violence was explored as an indicator of the impact of environmental
pollution. The study found in the First Nation communities of
Grassy Narrows and Whitedog, which had lost access to traditional
fishing because of mercury pollution from a nearby pulp mill,
sharp spike occurred in violent deaths at both Grassy Narrows
and Whitedog, precisely as the crisis of harvest disruption
deepened, and which did not occur on a nearby reserve that we
used as a control. Think of what 17 violent deaths in a single
year means to a community of a few hundred people.
such as community stability and improved health need to be further
explored as indicators of successful development.
with the addition of a cultural component in the interests of
encouraging development that maintains the cultural diversity
of Indigenous communities, criteria appropriate to the way of
life of the community are important. Language retention is a prime
indicator of cultural integrity and in Canada Indigenous languages
are both threatened in some regions and vibrant in others, with
many communities attempting to restore almost extinct languages.
In forest-based economic development, historically, Indigenous
knowledge has been integral to the success of the larger economy,
especially during the early period of colonization and the fur
trade. Today, with scarce and diminishing forest resources, Indigenous
knowledge may once again play an important role in new types of
forest-based development. The criterion of the role of Indigenous
knowledge in developing and conserving forests is another key
aspect of cultural diversity.
Understanding Indigenous economies, both their "success"
and "underdevelopment", requires an exploration of development
theories that embrace human agency. These theories allow an exploration
of development that is based on Indigenous communities' aspirations
for self-determination and economic development that is appropriate
to their worldview, including their traditional economies, culture
and recognition of their unique rights. With this acceptance,
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Indigenous communities themselves.
methodological challenges that must be addressed to include Indigenous
communities' perspectives lead to more participatory approaches
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explore and accept new theories and approaches. Given the inadequacies
of data, researchers must work to fill in the knowledge gaps.
They must also advocate for effective ways of collecting and maintaining
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that will paint an accurate picture of the changes over time in
Indigenous peoples' economic conditions.
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1 This article arises out of an ongoing research project,
"First Nations and Sustainable Forestry: Institutional
Conditions for Success", begun in 2003 and funded by
the Sustainable Forest Management Network. The author is a
co-investigator in a research team headed by principal investigator
Dr. Ronald Trosper, Dept. of Forest Resources Management,
University of British Columbia. The project website is http://www.forestry.ubc.ca/fnconditions/.
The author also wishes to acknowledge the work of Sarah Allen,
a Masters student working on the project, for her interest
in and exploration of community well-being indicators. Allen
participated in the development of the community-based framework.
2 Aboriginal peoples in Canada are defined in the Constitution
Act, 1982 to include Indians, Inuit and Metis. "Indians"refers
to a broad group of Aboriginal people, some of whom are recognized
as "status"Indians by the federal government. These
status Indians are an administrative and trust responsibility
of the federal government under the Indian Act. Groups of
status Indians were granted small land bases called reserves
and governed as "bands". The term "band"was
seen to be paternalistic with the rise of the self-determination
movement and terminology changed from "band"to "First
Nation."For more background on the nuances of terminology
used for Aboriginal peoples in Canada, see Words First: An
Evolving Terminology Relating to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
(Indian and Northern Affairs Canada 2004). Indian and Northern
Affairs Canada, Communications Branch. 2004. Words First:
An Evolving Terminology Relating to Aboriginal Peoples in
August 24, 2005.
3 This section is taken from a longer paper published by
the author (Smith 2004)