Janette Bulkan

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Dr. Bulkan has gone and above beyond to support me in my research. She's also been supportive in releasing funds for my professional development and providing references for my scholarship/internship applications as well as opportunities to develop essential research skills.

Samuel Adeyanju (2019)


Dr. Janette Bulkan is a #GreatSupervisor because of her support and guidance since resuming my MSc program in September, 2017. The many moments of interactions with her both personally and during classes has increased my passion to research on issues in community forestry and governance system in the natural resource management. She's a leading scholar in this field with many colleagues and collaborators globally. Thanks to Janette for supervising my Master's degree.

Samuel Adeyanju (2018)


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

A predictive modeling and ecocultural study of pine mushrooms (Tricholoma murrillianum) with the Lil-wat Nation in British Columbia, Canada (2021)

Although recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Indigenous rights to traditionally held and managed forestlands and forest resources are only beginning to gain visibility in forest research and management in Canada. This presents challenges to First Nations whose cultural and economic priorities for forest use conflict with those of private and public entities, particularly when evidence is required to support traditional use claims. Knowledge of traditional use is customarily maintained as oral history and is rarely available in formats recognized by Canadian legal and governance institutions. Such is the case with the Líl̓wat First Nation, in British Columbia, Canada, and Tricholoma murrillianum (pine mushroom), an elusive, ectomycorrhizal mushroom species whose value to Líl̓wat people is put at risk by competing timber interests. Rich Líl̓wat Indigenous knowledge (IK) of pine mushrooms signals their importance and is encoded in temporally long and detailed records of their presence on the landscape. I elicit Líl̓wat IK to generate a map of pine mushroom habitat in their traditional territory and demonstrate the multifaceted value of pine mushrooms to Líl̓wat people. I utilize the species distribution modeling (SDM) software Maxent to compare two methods for incorporating Líl̓wat IK to produce pine mushroom occurrence data, yielding two models of suitable habitat. I demonstrate that Líl̓wat IK generates species distribution models with high area under the curve values (0.920, 0.923) and low omission error rates (0.054, 0.062). This study also demonstrates the novel application of IK to fungi SDM. Drawing from semi-structured interviews, document analysis and discourse analysis, I show that harvesting pine mushrooms is an expression of Líl̓wat cultural revitalization and consequently, colonial resistance. Documented traditional Líl̓wat practices show that pine mushrooms have long been managed in relation to other species, such as deer, and as part of broader sociocultural systems founded in reciprocity. Where Western scientists are increasingly interested in working with Indigenous communities and IK, I highlight respectful and reciprocal ways in which ecological and ethnoecological research can be undertaken.

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Drivers of biodiversity conservation in sacred groves: a comparative study of three sacred groves in South-west Nigeria (2020)

Globally, sacred groves represent a traditional form of community-based conservation, recognized for their capacity to preserve areas that are of cultural and religious importance to local people. In most cases, the entire community takes on a watchdog role to guard against encroachment and unauthorized access either by its members or outsiders who might desecrate such sites. This thesis investigates the effects of different governance arrangements of three sacred groves in south-west Nigeria-Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove (UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005), Idanre Hills (Nigerian National Monument) and Igbo Olodunmare (local cultural site)-on their religio-cultural, socio-economic and ecological benefits and contribution to biodiversity conservation. Using a mixed-method design of semi-structured questionnaires (n=167), key informant interviews (n=2), and focus groups (n=7), I collected data from local community members, traditional priests, sacred grove devotees and tourism officials. The results identified that varying religio-cultural benefits serve as the primary motivation to preserve the sacred groves, although they differ from grove to grove. Economic gains from tourism (employment provision and income generation activities associated with the groves) also emerged as a significant driver for conserving biodiversity in sacred groves. I found that the management of the groves as a result of government involvement (assigning staff to the sites, special laws, and regulations) and international designation (UNESCO World Heritage Site) had positive impacts on levels of protection. I conclude that the co-existence of community-based conservation through a system of established traditional norms and prohibitions, as well as formal government legislation and management, offers assurance for long-term preservation of sacred groves and their biodiversity. I discuss the implications of these observations and offer suggestions to improve community engagement, uphold traditional ecological knowledge, develop ecotourism and Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes within the groves.

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Non-Timber Forest Products - Indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge and livelihood security in West Suriname (2017)

Suriname is highly forested and inhabited by Indigenous peoples who are dependent on a diverse range of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) for their subsistence and income. NTFP knowledge is decreasing due to fragmented knowledge transmission. The NTFP-containing forests are also of interest to multinational extractive companies. Without co-managed governance and weak tenure security, livelihoods and biodiversity can become jeopardised. This thesis focuses on two Indigenous communities that vary in forest-dependency and exposure to urbanisation. Children’s ethnobotanical knowledge is compared to determine causes of ethnobotanical knowledge losses. In addition, land tenure regimes are assessed and ecological impacts from NTFP harvests are determined.Voucher specimens were collected and ethnobotanical data were obtained from informants. Questionnaires were used to elicit and record children’s ethnobotanical knowledge and that of NTFP gatherers to define important NTFP species. Market surveys were held to determine commercial NTFPs.It was shown that school attendance and the limited time spent in forests disrupt the acquisition of ethnobotanical knowledge by children. At the same time, acculturation can lead to cross-cultural knowledge exchange, strengthening the communities’ knowledge about NTFPs. The research further demonstrated that the uses of commercial and food NTFPs were known prior to the acquisition of knowledge of plant names, confirming that ethnobotanical knowledge acquisition at a young age happens through observation.Ecological risks from overharvesting seeds from vegetal NTFPs included trophic cascades: population declines of targeted species and animals that feed on them. For the commercially most traded animals, a decrease in abundancy was noticed as a result of increased local and non-local demands. Because of a sudden high global demand for Potamotrygon boesemani, stocks of this endemic stingray are imperilled. NTFP gathering largely happened outside the communities’ communal forest on State lands under active or proposed logging concessions.Traditional NTFP practices should be safeguarded by protecting gathering sites and targeted species. Strengthening of Indigenous with government co-management is needed for effective forest governance. Moreover, long-term research is desirable on current NTFP stocks and the impacts of NTFP harvesting on target species and their ecosystem. An immediate moratorium on P. boesemani is required to prevent this species from further collapse or potential extinction.

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Where to now?: First Nation-led research, self-determination, and the role of the settler state in British Columbia (2017)

Following the Calder Decision in 1970, subsequent legal rulings in Canada have defined the government’s duty to recognize First Nations’ pre-existing rights to their Traditional Territory, undermining the racist discovery doctrine and terra nullius arguments of the Crown’s claim to radical title to the Province of British Columbia. In doing so, the courts have declared the importance of First Nation historical research, specifically Oral History evidence, in demonstrating Aboriginal Rights and Title. With this, an industry of consultants and academics has arisen to aid in the collection of place-based Traditional Knowledge held and protected by community members. Employing scientific rigor and GIS, various studies documenting land use, occupancy, and Traditional Knowledge have proven to be effective means of resistance for First Nations by securing vital concessions of revenue and management authority from the Province. Yet, these studies are vulnerable to reproducing essentialist images of First Nation culture and have limited utility on their own in Aboriginal Title litigation. This thesis seeks to demonstrate how recent legal accommodations by the Canadian Courts and secure Web 2.0 technologies open space for the deployment of First Nation-led participatory research for both Aboriginal Title litigation and cultural revitalization efforts. The need for this research was identified via a community-based research approach focusing on experiential learning and dialogue with Elders from two communities of the St‘át‘imc Nation and interviews with experts in the field. The application of community-led participatory research more directly addresses the barriers to research and compromises in representation made for efficacy of the current research paradigm. By allowing for the production of research outputs that expand the reach of community voices to promote understanding and empathy in their own communities and settler society, community-led participatory research can ultimately result in greater space for First Nation self-definition and determination. Therefore, First Nation research strategies should supplement quantitative land use studies with long-term participatory research projects more appropriate for addressing the dualism of First Nation Self-determination - external decolonization and internal cultural revitalization.

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Forest carbon offset projects in coastal British Columbia: Aboriginal criteria, awareness and preferences (2013)

Aboriginal groups are still developing recognition of their rights, title and capacity to co-manage their forestland. Provincially there are a number of changes in legislation and regulation that affect Aboriginal groups, particularly in the area of climate change. Aboriginal groups that are actively negotiating their legal rights need to integrate the discussion of climate change, particularly in the area of forests with their evolving legal rights. Aboriginal groups have been proactive in British Columbia but there are many critical gaps that should be explored. My objectives are to identify the key cultural, social, environmental and economic criteria of five selected Aboriginal groups in British Columbia for forest carbon offset projects, to assess their awareness and to identify their key preferences in forest carbon agreements. I travelled to five Aboriginal communities where I conducted twenty individual interviews in total to collect the qualitative data to support my research objectives. Results showed all five selected Aboriginal groups are struggling with balancing economic and environmental values for managing their forests. Cultural, social, and environmental values were closely related to each other and were preferred over economic values. However, there was recognition of the importance of generating revenue and creating employment from forest resources. The five selected Aboriginal groups in this study are at different stages of looking at carbon offsets as a new, potential forestry activity to add to their economic development portfolios. Approximately half of the Aboriginal groups in this study have a low awareness of basic carbon terminology. There was no consensus across the five Aboriginal groups for preferences for carbon project types, acceptable forest stand tending techniques and contractual arrangements, except for a high group-to-group consensus across the five Aboriginal groups on a renewable type of carbon contractual arrangement.

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