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The balance of power : assessing conflict and collaboration in Aboriginal forest management Forsyth, Jason Porter


The relationship between Aboriginal and Crown governments in regards to forest management in Canada is dynamic and challenging. This study describes this relationship in terms of the Aboriginal-Crown forest policy context, highlighting regional examples of Aboriginal forest management and developing a constructive framework for the analysis of the Aboriginal-Crown relationship. The forest policy context is set by providing a case study of British Columbia's attempt to overhaul forest policy in the face of political, judicial and Aboriginal rights and title pressures. This cases study provides insight into the complexities that exist within the Aboriginal-Crown relationship by utilizing a policy regime and policy cycle framework. Results of the case study highlight that Aboriginal governments must be consulted and given a rightful seat at the policy design table. Creation of exclusive provincial government-industry policy forums can lead to increased tensions between Aboriginal and Crown governments. Such tensions can result in judicial challenges by Aboriginal peoples and a distrustful environment surrounding the spirit and intent of new forest policy design. Examples of Aboriginal forest management from British Columbia and Labrador are then reviewed to explore the concept of Aboriginal forest tenure. Analysis of these examples finds that governance mechanisms, enabled by co-management agreements, are the driving factor behind significant changes to forest management regimes. A conceptual framework is then developed for determining the level of power-sharing in Aboriginal-Crown forest management arrangements. The framework is applied to the British Columbian Forest and Range Agreement policy initiative. Results suggest that little power-sharing exists at the strategic decision-making level, but enhanced powersharing does occur at the tactical and operational levels.

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