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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ancient values, new technology : emerging methods for integrating cultural values in forest management Lewis, John Llewellyn


Although the planning techniques employed by foresters have grown increasingly sophisticated in recent years, the task of accommodating cultural values in resource management plans has become more, rather than less, problematic. This problem is particularly evident in resource management issues involving First Nation cultural values. In recent years, disputes over places such as Gustafsen Lake, Ipperwash, and Meares Island have found their way into the Canadian public's consciousness. At the heart of these controversies, there have been complaints involving not only unceded territory, but also the greater issue of culturally significant lands. Conflicts over culturally significant lands are so pervasive because resource management processes ignore cultural values often due to the fact that they are so difficult to incorporate within conventional modes of land management. This thesis reports on an initiative with the Cheam First Nation to explore their cultural perceptions of the land, and to identify the ways in which cultural uses of place are affected by resource management. In addition to documenting the land-based cultural values that involve identity in social groups, modes of material sustenance and spiritual activities, I have found that resource development activities contribute directly to the undermining of Native cultural values because they are so directly tied to the land and concepts of place. Moreover, I have made the unprecedented finding that effective cross-cultural communication between First Nations and resource managers can be impaired by placing land-use information in standard cartographic format. Three-dimensional visual models of the landscape are the most effective means of eliciting community reactions to management plans across several dimensions including cultural uses, aesthetics and spiritual values. In the concluding chapter, I have formulated a set of recommendations which posit that, if resource planning is to be functional in the realm of forest management and cultural preservation, then aboriginal communities that are affected by forestry decisions should possess an opportunity to participate in resource decision-making. However, to be effective, shared decision-making in forest management requires new and relatively untested tools for cross-cultural communication - e.g. a socio-cultural planning framework, landscape visualisation, etc. - that can facilitate the incorporation of cultural values into standard forest management methodologies.

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