Doctor of Philosophy in Forestry (PhD)
Wildfire as a catalyst for co-management: Indigenous knowledge, stewardship and restoration of (post)fire landscapes in British Columbia
Shout-out to #GreatSupervisor @SES_UBC who's supportive, dedicated and always encourages me to think critically. Thanks for your mentorship!
Identifying suitable approaches for designing and implementing participatory processes in ways that enhance the delivery of outcomes, including community access to forest and water benefits, remains a key societal challenge. Central to this challenge are complexities related to structuring the participation of diverse actors operating at different governance scales and with diverse objectives. Prior studies have recognized that local communities and Indigenous Peoples are most affected by policy actions, and thus should meaningfully participate in policy debates at the regional and national and international scales. Yet participatory processes across governance scales tend to favor the participation of powerful actors including government representatives while limiting the participation of local communities and Indigenous Peoples. This study examines the scalar and participatory aspect of resource governance through two study contexts – the World Conservation Congress 2016 and the Reciprocal Water Agreement in Bolivia. Using qualitative data collection methods including semi-structured interviews, participant observation and document analysis, I examined how longstanding and emerging institutions and institutional arrangements that seek to integrate the participation of diverse actors at the regional and national and international scales, shape local participation and access to resources benefits. I developed a typology of participation to consider the linkages between gradations of participation based on different levels of power and spaces where the participation is likely to occur. Across the two study contexts, findings suggest that both longstanding and emerging institutions and institutional arrangements have the tendency to reinforce prevailing power relations. This in turn results in unequal participation among actors. Additionally, findings highlight the implications of existing gaps in governance on perceptions among actors about participation in resource decision-making. Overall, this study makes visible how prevailing and uneven structures of power across governance scales shape dominant visions for resource governance and the nature of participation of local communities and Indigenous Peoples in resource decision-making. Finally, this study identifies key recommendations for ensuring that adequate participation of local actors are addressed in resource governance. These include participatory design of spaces with local or Indigenous leadership, coordinated policy actions across sectors with overlapping responsibilities and objectives and locally-sourced and managed financial support.
The effects of climate change increasingly threaten forests; as a result, tree seed transfer actions - including controversial interventions like assisted migration (AM) - have adapted to facilitate trees’ adaptation to future climates. In this thesis, I explore seed transfer and AM governance in British Columbia (BC) using qualitative methods. First, I present a historical profile of BC’s seed transfer governance landscape, tracing decision-makers, policy instruments, rationales for seed transfer changes, risks, and knowledge used to inform policy from 1940 to 2019 based on document analysis and semi-structured interviews with key informants. Three insights relevant to understanding contemporary AM policies emerged from this analysis: i) through the opening of a policy window, a paradigmatic shift in seed transfer policy occurred with the establishment of a climate-based seed transfer system; ii) genetic knowledge produced within government ministries has been the dominant form of evidence used to inform seed transfer policy over time; and iii) governance processes, such as the disproportionately influential role of the forest industry in seed transfer policy-making, remained relatively unchanged in practice. Second, I offer a closer examination of the risks associated with and the types of knowledge that inform contemporary AM actions in BC. Based on 27 semi-structured interviews with government officials and forest industry professionals, I find that i) the type of knowledge deemed credible to inform contemporary AM decision-making is restricted to biophysical, model-based, scientific knowledge; ii) the primarily biophysical framing of AM shapes particular ways of understanding AM risks and solutions to address them; and iii) while decision-makers recognize the need to engage industry, First Nations and the general public, these groups are characterized as knowledge receivers. Interviewees also hold the view that the provision of science to different publics will prevent AM controversy. This research highlights the urgent need to meaningfully and respectfully include First Nations in AM decision-making. Overall, this thesis concludes that patrolling the types of AM expertise in informing seed transfer and AM actions serves to exclude other forms of knowledge and possibilities for shaping future forests.
Community-based conservation (CBC) approaches are complex governance spaces where diverse actors operating at multiple scales make decisions about and for local conservation. In this thesis, I explore CBC governance and decision-making in Kenya using multiple qualitative methods. First, I present a historical profile of Kenya’s national wildlife policy framework, identifying the events, ideologies and policies that led up to, and shaped the legal governance of CBC expression in Kenya today. This involved a comprehensive review of wildlife and conservation policy in Kenya from 1895-2016, focusing on a set of key governance attributes through the 120-year timeframe. Nine key informants participated in extended interviews to provide additional context and perspective to the 1200 pages of documents reviewed. Three insights relevant to understanding contemporary CBC in Kenya emerged from this analysis: (1) the continued expression of colonial relationships (2) the disproportional power of international conservation organizations (3) the tension between non-devolved national wildlife governance and the implementation of CBC. Second, to understand the expression of CBC at a local scale, I present analysis of governance structure, process, and the influence between scales of decision- making within the case study of Sera Community Conservancy in northern Kenya. During 13 months in the field, data was collected through: interviews (N=31), participant observation of meetings and decision-making settings (N=14), focus groups (N=4) with local elders and older women, as well as a review of over 400 pages of documents referencing governance process, NGO reports, and government legislation related to Sera Community Conservancy. Findings from this analysis are interpreted within a governance equity framework. Key insights include identifying the ways in which procedural equity is failing to function due to governance-related issues, including limiting the possibility of different knowledge holders to collaborate, systemic barriers to legitimate participation, and failure of transparent and effective communication. Overall, this thesis concludes that despite CBC’s objective of locally-informed decision making, local voices rarely influence outcomes at any scale of decision-making, while conservation NGOs disproportionally determine outcomes and priorities. This governance asymmetry constrains the value and undermines the legitimacy of local and indigenous knowledge, values, and practices within formal conservation in Kenya.
Collaborative planning in natural resource management involves a number of non-state actors and different institutions to make decisions that fall under the realm of governance. However, legitimacy, a quality considered necessary in successful governance, has not been thoroughly investigated empirically. This research examines the perceived importance of three different dimensions of legitimacy—representativeness, meaningfulness, and effectiveness—by actors in the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) decision-making process and the perceived role of three institutions—shadow networks, bridging organizations, and boundary objects—in relation to the legitimacy of the GBR plan. Based on semi-structured interviews (N=17), this research provides an empirical investigation of the nuances of legitimacy in collaborative natural resource planning and the institutions involved in that planning from the perspective of those involved or otherwise affected by the GBR decision-making process. The results illustrate the importance of representing the different participants’ interests and values in the final outcome, trustworthy relationships to build accountability and ensure commitments, strategically using representation to ensure a fair and meaningful decision-making process, and using small groups of capable negotiators to ensure the different values and interests are included at the different levels of decision-making. These observations highlight the importance of not just representation, but meaningful engagement, of actors in negotiating processes. They also emphasize the importance of shadow networks for brainstorming alternative solutions and creating personal relationships; of bridging organizations to effectively represent and coordinate the interests of a collective of actors that do not always have the same goals; and of boundary objects to reflect the interests and values of actors, thereby ensuring effectiveness through commitment to implementation. Errata available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/70674