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First Nations, forest lands, and "aboriginal forestry" in Canada: from exclusion to comanagement and beyond

Wyatt, S.



Canadian Journal of Forest Research



The term "aboriginal forestry" is used increasingly to describe the evolving role of First Nations peoples in Canadian forestry over the last 30 years. This paper reviews a diversity of experiences and identifies issues that have important implications for governments, forest planners, and First Nations: a forestry regime that reflects the interests of governments and industry rather than those of First Nations; variable implementation of aboriginal rights in forestry practice; benefits and problems of economic partnerships; limitations on consultation, traditional knowledge, and comanagement in forestry; and finally, different forestry paradigms. Among these experiences and issues, we recognise different visions for the participation of First Nations peoples in Canadian forestry. At one end of the spectrum, "forestry excluding First Nations" is no longer accepted. The most common form may be "forestry by First Nations," representing a role for First Nations within existing forestry regimes. Other options include "forestry for First Nations," in which forest managers seek to incorporate aboriginal values and knowledge in management activities and "forestry with First Nations," in which aboriginal peoples are equal partners in forest management. However, aboriginal forestry is better understood as a potential new form of forestry that uses knowledge and techniques drawn from both traditions and conventional forestry and is based on aboriginal rights, values, and institutions.

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