Can forest harvesting and the practice of Aboriginal rights exist compatibly on the landscape?
O'Sullivan, Susan Laker
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SubjectAboriginal rights; consultation; forest harvesting; mountain pine beetle; Tsilhqot'in Nation; unjustifiable infringement
Colonization and settlement have had a significant impact on the land base in British Columbia (BC). Forestry legislative changes, the mountain pine beetle epidemic and Aboriginal law developments over the past 30 years have magnified land management challenges in the Cariboo Region. Governments follow a court-developed consultation-engagement framework with First Nations when contemplating natural resource decisions. This study investigated the question: Can forest harvesting and the practice of Aboriginal rights exist compatibly on the landscape? I address this question by interviewing forest industry and local governments and by exploring the perspective of Tsilhqot'in people. Additional questions include: Have BC and First Nations moved closer to "reconciliation?" What does "unjustifiable infringement" look like? And what constitutes the ability to "balance societal and Aboriginal interests" on the ground? Study results confirmed the continuing complexity of an evolving legislative landscape and formed the basis for recommendations to improve good land stewardship, which is recognized as a shared goal by all of the interests in Tsilhqot'in territory.
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