Janette Bulkan

Associate Professor

Relevant Thesis-Based 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

Doctoral Student Supervision

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

Agricultural food sufficiency in Alberni-Clayoquot, Canada : an applied history approach (2023)

The question of whether a place is producing enough food to feed its population is called the question of food sufficiency. This dissertation looks at the history of agriculture and legislation around food sufficiency in British Columbia and the Alberni-Clayoquot region. The research method of applied history is adopted and contrasts other common approaches to food sufficiency that focus on calculating the difference between production and consumption.To begin, the history of agricultural production within the Alberni Farmers’ Institute (from 1921 to 1984) is documented through a re-telling of events around potato growing, farmer field days, and fish-bearing streams on farms. It is argued that the region never achieved holistic food sufficiency, and that as the century wore on, visions of the food system became increasingly narrowed. Following this, the first five years of the British Columbia Agricultural Land Commission (1973 to 1978) are described. As an administrative tribunal, the Commission sought to increase provincial food sufficiency by means of farmland protection legislation. It is argued that the Commission first imagined soil, land and food to be in an inextricable knot and that its formative years contained a unique ethic related to land, collaboration and public service.Moving onwards from the 1970s, a short history of provincial slaughter regulations is provided. It is argued that the Alberni Farmers’ Institutes’ work to help change these regulations in 2020 and 2021 demonstrates how unfunded volunteer-based organizations can successfully contest barriers to local food sufficiency. The category of on-farm slaughter is further described as unique meat culture in its own respect – with its own specific environmental, and socio-economic and metaphysical characteristics. To end, the last chapter offers a deeper look at how the contemporary food system is envisioned by some Alberni-Clayoquot residents. Through food mapping and photography, the many ways people value food is illustrated as well as the tie between food sufficiency and food sovereignty. The dissertation concludes by highlighting the importance of maintaining a balance between independence and dependence in farmer-government relations and the consequential effects of our underlying values on maintaining an adequate regional food supply.

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Forest management and conservation governance in relation to Indigenous food sovereignty with the Lilwat First Nation in British Columbia, Canada (2022)

Indigenous Food Sovereignty (IFS) involves the sacred responsibilities and relationships of Indigenous Nations and communities, including urban communities, with their food systems. IFS relies on Indigenous Peoples’ ability to restore and maintain relationships with culturally desirable foods, ensuring the sustainability of their food systems. The ability of Indigenous Peoples to experience food sovereignty continues to be adversely impacted by statutory laws and policies in the nation states whose land grabs enclose customary and traditional territories. In this dissertation, I show how government regulations and forestry, protected areas, and ecosystem services programming in British Columbia (BC), Canada impact the Líl̓wat First Nation’s processes to recover food sovereignty. This dissertation draws on ethnographic fieldwork with the Líl̓wat First Nation between 2015-2020. Firstly, I summarize some of the food-based practices and experiences of Líl̓wat Nation that constitute the foundation of Líl̓wat food sovereignty. Secondly, I analyse the impacts of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs on Indigenous Peoples and local communities as ecosystem services providers, finding that PES programs run the risk of reifying Indigenous knowledges to fit into ecosystem services approaches, legitimizing settler colonial jurisdiction over Indigenous peoples’ territories. Thirdly, I assess the BC Government’s changes to forest policy since 2003 that have created both new opportunities, as well as constraints, for Líl̓wat Nation. Fourthly, I present ethnographic evidence to show how recreational tourism creates challenges for Indigenous food sovereignty through impacting both food sources and food practices. I find that the continuing erasure of Líl̓wat ontologies by conservationist land managers constitutes ‘slow violence’. Indigenous peoples’ community spaces are critical fora for deliberating on and creating desired food futures that include Indigenous food sovereignty. This dissertation finds that settler government policies and inaction towards safeguarding food provisioning landscapes, including so-called ‘Crown forests’ and protected areas, impede the ability of Indigenous peoples to realize food sovereignty in these spaces, unhindered by settler colonial violence.

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The political ecology of illegal logging in Thailand: forest exploitation, violence, and anti-politics (2022)

Policy definitions of illegal logging are anchored in national forest governance institutions. However, extensive scholarship finds that national forest governance institutions stemming from the colonial era undermine customary rights to forest landscapes, adversely impacting Indigenous Peoples. Through a post-structural examination of the state and sovereignty, this dissertation interrogates illegal logging as a discursive construction concerned with the appropriation and continual reproduction of boundaries and rules over land and resources. In doing so, this dissertation reveals that operations of sovereign power and state institutions perpetuate historical and current forest degradation, resource inequities, and violence within Thailand's State forests. The dissertation's findings are drawn from historical analyses and ethnographic fieldwork undertaken during 2018-2019 in Thailand. First, I found that throughout the 20th century, legal and illegal logging were ordinary constitutive components of state-capital relations which served to enrich powerful actors in state bureaucracies and their private sector allies, further driving widescale forest exploitation. Second, I detail the localized subjugation of a Karen Pwo Indigenous community, located within a National Reserved Forest bordering Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in western Thailand, who lack substantive legal land and resource rights. I found that state actors' continued governance and maintenance of State forests, justified through civilizing ideologies, facilitated the imposition of sovereign power over such tenure-insecure communities by state and state-supported actors. The enforcement of forestry laws resulted in constrained livelihoods and violent dispossession via illegal logging, associated with forced labour and drug addiction. Third, I found that the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade, Voluntary Partnership Agreement negotiation process between Thailand and the European Union failed to address embedded inequalities in Thai forest governance structures that benefit elites at the expense of the rural poor. Through an examination of political logics, I showed how actors from the government and private sector succeeded in structuring the terrain of negotiations to minimize civil society demands for reforms to local people's land and timber rights. I conclude that the maintenance and (re)production of Thailand's State forests, advanced through national and international policy efforts, obscures and renders banal the resultant and continuing violent dispossession of Indigenous Peoples.

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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.

Assessing how the beneficiaries perceive the constraints and benefits of FSC certification: a case study of Brazilian smallholders (2022)

This study analyzed the interaction between large companies and the smallholders in the development of local environmental stewardship, focused on the FSC certification of forest plantations in Brazil.To conduct this analysis, four case study units in the Northeast and South of Brazil were selected through purposeful sampling. Each case study unit is comprised of one large company that support smallholders in achieving FSC certification. Forty-five participants in the supply chain from smallholder to processing facility were interviewed. They included: certification body, company representative, sustainability manager, consultant firm, certification specialist, smallholder, and smallholder association. The sampling process for the selection of interviewees was a combination of snowballing and random sampling. The concept of inductive thematic saturation was used to determine if the sample size was enough to achieve saturation and therefore data collection completed.My study concluded that market demand and financial incentives seem to be the main factors motivating the engagement and long-term commitment of the smallholders in the FSC certification scheme. Importantly, as long as the smallholders perceive that the economic benefits outweigh the costs, it is very likely they will continue to use the FSC certification scheme. It is not enough to just see the more intangible human, social, and environmental benefits of certification as the primary reason to continue with costs of certification.

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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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