Robert Antal Kozak

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Mar 2019)
Disentangling the social net : examining the links between social capital, empowerment and social difference in two ecotourism villages in Ghana (2018)

Reconciling conservation of natural resources with rural community empowerment is a much-needed goal, and a global challenge. Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is one attempt to reconcile such endeavours. Attracted by its promises, social capital has become a focus for policy and research in CBNRM and community development in recent years. However, social capital has been approached as a catchall and a decontextualized concept, rendering the term close to unusable for effective management. Furthermore, the tendency to treat communities as homogenous units has created further confusion when examining the role of social capital and devising appropriate actions. In this context, the goal of this doctoral dissertation was to critically investigate social capital as it relates to empowerment and equity impacts to offer new insights for effective and contextually-driven practices, in particular within the context of community-based ecotourism (CBE). As such, this research borrows from the fields of sociology, feminist political ecology and community development, to investigate if and how social capital plays a role in community empowerment in two CBE projects in rural villages in the Volta Region of Ghana by employing a multimethod and multilevel approach. To avoid confounding terms and to navigate the complexity, I separately analyze different social capital and empowerment components. Employing both qualitative and quantitative data sources and analyses (including social network analysis) and incorporating a feminist perspective, I provide a novel, re-politicized and structured approach for the exploration, in the Ghanaian CBE context, of well-established social capital hypotheses that to date, have been primarily applied in Western societies. Overall, research findings show that social capital, social exclusions and empowerment opportunities are all interdependent phenomena occurring concurrently at different ecological scales and in different participatory spaces. I argue that a comprehensive understanding of the merits of social capital in the context of CBE requires a multilevel and multidimensional analytical approach and an interdisciplinary perspective to develop successful community projects that do not further social inequities but rather, enable collective action in, and shared benefits from, natural resource management.

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Growing political : how forest-related violence shapes community-based forest management in Cambodia (2018)

Community-based forest management (CBFM) projects support communities to take a central role in managing their local forests. Communities are asked to enforce the exclusion of illegitimate forest users and prevent illicit extraction of forest resources. However, the practices that CBFM aims to reduce (deforestation and illicit extraction of forest resources) are often facilitated by the use of direct violence. In seeking to reduce these practices, some participants in CBFM experience violent conflicts over forest use (hereafter, forest-related violence). Such violence presents a threat to the lives and human rights of CBFM participants and has the potential to undermine the effective implementation of forest conservation activities. Yet, the extent of forest-related violence in community-managed forests, exactly how it manifests, who is involved, or the outcomes of such violence for CBFM participants and their CBFM practices are not well known. This dissertation explores these issues in the case study country of Cambodia. I draw on data collected between May and December 2015 through a national survey of eighteen NGOs involved in CBFM in Cambodia, semi-structured interviews with one hundred and fifty participants in forty CBFM sites, and participant observation in forest patrols and CBFM training sessions. I demonstrate that forest-related violence is widespread across Cambodia affecting seventy-five per cent of CBFM groups interviewed and seventy-two per cent of NGOs surveyed. I argue that these ‘incidents’ of violence are not discrete but, rather, are the manifestation of a succession of violent processes in which Cambodia’s neopatrimonial socio-political system is central. Furthermore, neopatrimonialism facilitates processes of structural and symbolic violence that preclude effective responses to direct forest-related violence. As a consequence, forest-related violence acts as a disciplinary mechanism inciting fear and undermining the effectiveness of CBFM practices. Yet, it also acts as a catalyst for the re-politicization of CBFM practices and re-conceptualization of CBFM participants’ relationships with the environment, other forest users, and the government. Thus, this dissertation directs attention to the lived experience of forest-related violence and exposes the ‘tomorrow of violence’ – the enduring legacies of violence that configure the way people conceptualize themselves, their government, and the international development community.

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Investigating people-forest relationships around central Kenya's Nyandarwa forest reserve : understanding their sustainability through indigenous knowledge systems (2018)

This study explored how people-forest relationships are forged around Kenya’s Nyandarwa Forest Reserve, and how Indigenous Knowledge Systems of Agĩkũyũ people around the Reserve might contribute to healthy, sustainable people-forest relationships in light of the country’s changing social, economic, and political situations. The study sought to examine:1) how the indigenous communities around Nyandarwa Forest Reserve traditionally understood and sustained interdependencies with the forest; 2) how these interdependencies have transformed consistent with Kenya’s post-independence changes in social, economic, and political situations; 3) to what extent local, national, and international efforts to promote healthy sustainable people-forest relationships are incorporating local communities’ Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS); and, 4) how these communities’ IKS might inform the proposition of an environmental conservation framework for sustainable people-forest relationships.The study was guided by post-colonial indigenous research paradigms anchored in decolonizing methodologies. These methodologies were buttressed by indigenous theories that consider communities as spiritual beings with multiple relations. The study was informed by the traditions and cultural heritage of the Agĩkũyũ people, and augmented by Afrocentric philosophies that underlie African ways of knowing and value systems. Data were collected from community groups, elders, the Kenya Forest Service, and archives. The data corpus was analyzed using NVIVO consistent with the study’s theoretical framework and generated themes that address the research questions. In addition, the research participants contributed to the process as this study sought to elevate the community to the role of co-researchers and to create mutually beneficial long-term relationships.Results show that the pre-colonial manifestation of Agĩkũyũ people-forest relationships were understood through land, that land continues to be a central pillar of Agĩkũyũ indigenous environmental thought, and that one of the historical values of the forest is its role in sustaining the struggle for independence. Further, the study reveals that some indigenous practices tied to sacred sites and food sovereignty have endured, different governance regimes have shifted the way people-forest relationships are constructed, and the Agĩkũyũ have been continuously mobilizing to protect their landscape. In the end, this study suggests how IKS can contribute to forging sustainable people-forest relationships, arguably the planet’s most threatened resource.

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Towards a new economic paradigm : exploring mental models and message framing effects about ecological economics (2017)

The transition to a sustainable economic paradigm may be one of the most important issues of our times. This study contributes to the effective communication of ecological economics, by: 1) identifying mental models on people’s perceptions about economic growth and the environment, 2) exploring the prevalence of expansionist and ecological attitudes, and segmenting the audience based on these attitudes, and 3) exploring the effects of different messages (about the transition to economies not centered on growth) on people’s thoughts, emotions and attitudes. Sixty interviews and 1,250 online surveys were carried out in British Columbia and Canada, respectively. Data were analysed with NVivo 10, IBM SPSS Statistics 23 and Latent Gold 5.1. Based on the interviews, five mental models were described. These sat in a spectrum of views anchored to an expansionist or to an ecological worldview. The most expansionist views (Cluster A) expressed great faith in indefinite economic growth and human ingenuity. The most ecological perspectives (Cluster E) acknowledged limits to economic growth, recognized the ecological crisis and expressed techno-skepticism. The other perspectives were in the middle of the spectrum. Based on the surveys, three audience segments were identified. Participants in Cluster 1 (41.1%) were the most optimistic towards technology and indefinite economic growth. Members of Cluster 2 (36.3%) did not express strong opinions. Participants in Cluster 3 (22.6%) acknowledged human unsustainability, expressed higher environmental concern and did not believe in indefinite growth. Sociodemographic factors (e.g. gender, political identification) correlated with the mental models and segments.Regarding the framing experiments, the messages influenced participant’s thoughts and emotions. Environmental messages invoked more references to resources and sustainability, while well-being messages generated more comments about overconsumption and happiness. Loss-framed messages caused greater negative emotions than gain-framed messages and the environmental message focused on losses generated the least hope and the greatest fear and anger among frames. There was no evidence that attitudinal responses were influenced by the frames. Most participants agreed with moving into an economic model with reduced consumption levels. This study provides data on topics that have been little explored and offers insights about the impacts of different post-growth messages.

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Social impact assessment in rural and small-town British Columbia (2015)

Social impact assessment is the primary ex-ante tool for achieving socially sustainable outcomes and for ensuring the equitable distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with major development projects. The objectives of this research project were to evaluate the social impact assessments that are conducted as part of mandatory environmental assessments for proposed major projects in rural and small-town British Columbia (BC), Canada and to recommend practicable changes for improving social impact assessment practice and policy. I addressed these objectives by analyzing the content of social impact assessments, interviewing interested parties with technical knowledge, and conducting a multiple case study evaluation of assessments undertaken for mining projects in Northwest BC. Although my findings show that excellence is possible under the current BC Environmental Assessment Act and supporting guidelines, there is little consistency in the methods, measures, approaches, and overall quality of assessments conducted in BC. A major shortcoming that emerged was the lack of attention to issues of equity, a fundamental principle in sustainable development and social impact assessment. Further, the social impact assessments being conducted in BC are generally not supported by conceptual frameworks or grounded in theory. Ultimately, it is recommended that the provincial government provide greater guidance regarding social impact assessment and examine what appears to be an ad hoc system of professional reliance. Finally, the practice of social impact assessment would benefit from a transparent discussion regarding what constitutes a qualified social impact assessment practitioner and a more in-depth examination of the theoretical foundations of social impact assessment.

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The paper to digital media transition : defining sustainability in media supply chains (2015)

The phrase, “please consider the environment before printing this email” has entered the common vernacular. It suggests that when I consider the environment, paper media is of particular concern, and by inference, digital media is not. This thesis tackles the legitimacy of this claim by examining how media sustainability operates from three critical perspectives: industry, consumers, and academia. To measure the paper industry’s perspective, a series of interviews with business executives along a supply chain were conducted. I found that collaboration between supply chain actors is a prerequisite for improving environmental performance. To gain insight on the consumer’s perspective, I surveyed 1,400 individuals in North America, investigating media habits and environmental values. I found that consumers are shifting from paper to digital media, but that environmental values have no influence over this shift. This suggests that consumers could be detached from the environmental impacts of their media choices. Finally, the academic perspective was analyzed through a comprehensive review of life cycle assessment (LCA) research that compares paper and digital media from an environmental perspective. The studies found that digital media is almost always preferable to paper, requiring less energy and materials. However, they did not assess the assumptions required in order to compare such different products. More worryingly, the context of media consumption – the industrial systems that produce paper and digital products – was never taken into account. I conclude that since a significant media shift is underway new methods are required to consider sustainability. The new methods should be anchored in two concepts that could improve considerations of the environmental performance of industrial systems. First, industrial ecology, the idea that industry might mimic nature, can strengthen initial assessments of environmental performance. Second, capability maturity models can assist in gauging the ability of industrial systems to manage and improve environmental performance over time.

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Tourists' Visual Perception of Forests and Forest Management in Vancouver Island and Tasmania (2014)

No abstract available.

Competitiveness and sustainability : perspectives from the secondary wood industry of British Columbia, the forest industries of New Zealand, Chile, and Brazil, and the sugarcane-based ethanol industry of Brazil (2010)

This investigation assesses British Columbia’s secondary wood products industry, the forest products industries of New Zealand, Chile, and Brazil, and Brazil’s sugarcane-based ethanol and industrial plantation forest industries. More specifically, the dynamic and interrelated concepts of competitiveness and sustainability within the contexts of the BC secondary wood products sector and other competing regions are examined. Manufacturing and business competencies were used to inform the competitiveness construct, while the role that various sustainability issues (i.e. social and environmental) may play on firms’ future strategies was also assessed.key research questions considered were: What are key factors for the future competitiveness of the BC secondary wood products industry? How have southern hemisphere industries been able to successfully enter major export markets and what factors will impact their competitiveness in the future? Is there a potential relationship between sustainability and competitiveness in the forest sectors of the world? Qualitative methodologies of grounded theory and case studies were used to address these research questions.Findings indicate that business-related strategies, as opposed to manufacturing strategies, are the most critical factors that firms must consider for their long-term competitiveness. In the BC secondary wood products sector, improvements in the quality of managerial and entrepreneurial capacity will be particularly important. In New Zealand, forest ownership fragmentation will likely play a role on the business-related strategies of firms, as raw material security may become an issue. Despite Chile’s well-known business orientation, external factors, such as rising input and shipping costs, will have to be taken into account to ensure future success. In Brazil, the need for improvements to the country’s environmental legal framework is considered a critical concern at this time. However, in the long run, business-oriented strategies will become more important to Brazilian firms. In all of the regions studied, participants agreed that the constructs of sustainability and competitiveness will become increasingly intertwined in the global forest sectors of the near future. Finally, a foundation is laid for the theoretical development of a framework for the competitive environment for post-industrial firms, which includes sustainability.

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Diffusion, adoption, and implementation of corporate responsibility practices in the forest sector : a proposed framework (2010)

The adoption of Corporate Responsibility practices is of strategic importance for the new social contract that the forest sector is seeking to establish. This sector has been increasingly under pressure to adopt responsible practices and show commitment to sustainability. However, Corporate Responsibility is not an easy concept for companies to implement. Identifying how this concept diffuses to companies, as well as the way forest companies understand and operationalize Corporate Responsibility practices, is an important first step to improve responsible practices in this sector.This dissertation addressed these issues by proposing a framework explaining diffusion, adoption, and implementation of Corporate Responsibility practices in the forest sector. Content analyses of sustainability reports of the largest global forest companies evaluated this sector’s understanding of concept. Grounded theory methodology was then used to develop a framework based on interviews with forest companies, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, and academics in Brazil, Canada, and the United States.Results show that different factors influence the diffusion, adoption, and implementation of Corporate Responsibility practices in forest companies. While external factors influence the diffusion of Corporate Responsibility practices to companies, internal factors influence the adoption and implementation of these practices within companies. Context influences different aspects of these processes by shaping relevant Corporate Responsibility issues and stakeholder demands in varying places of operation. The diffusion, adoption, and implementation of Corporate Responsibility practices are cyclical and interconnected processes that require continuous improvement efforts. These results advance knowledge on diffusion, adoption, and implementation of Corporate Responsibility practices, especially within the forest sector context. The identification of patterns in these processes should facilitate the management of companies’ response processes for responsible and sustainable practices. For organizations interested in advancing the practice of Corporate Responsibility, understanding the diffusion process can help them to identify more effective means of communicating with potential adopters, as well as positively influencing the uptake of more responsible practices.

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Wood in the human environment (2010)

No abstract available.

The Role of Communications in Emerging Markets for Wood Products (2009)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
2 legit 2 quit : the effect of institutions on the perceptions of legitimacy in the Great Bear Rainforest (2017)

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.

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Decolonizing the mind : centring settler-colonial disposession and mutually contested sovereignties in British Columbia's forestry landscape and narrative (2015)

In British Columbia (BC), the dominant narrative in forestry, particularly over the past four decades, has been largely framed by discourses relating to notions of progress and evolution with respect to improved forestlands management and, importantly, to Crown-Aboriginal relations. However, this narrative is worth re-framing, not only since the field of forestry has lagged behind other academic disciplines in explicitly opening up decolonizing and anti-colonial spaces, but because it has also been historically complicit in both entrenching and reproducing settler-colonial structures of domination on unceded Indigenous lands. This thesis therefore seeks to make a critical intervention in current literatures in BC’s forestry landscape by drawing attention to primary assumptions underlying the notion of “progress” in Crown-Aboriginal relations within the forestry context. To unmask these assumptions, a genealogical approach was taken up to construct a critical and effective history of the present, first situating the historical and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples, lands, and lifeways at the centre of the forestry narrative rather than at its historical peripheries, and demonstrating how dispossession and the sustained, ongoing access to Indigenous lands by the Crown has been crucial for the forest sector’s overall success. Second, an in-depth exploration of deep-seated, historically contingent assumptions underlying the legitimacy of both Crown and Indigenous sovereignties in BC was conducted. Key discursive and material expressions of Western sovereignty and Indigenous conceptualizations of self-government and resurgent nationhood were explored, with the view that such an inquiry may bring about a necessary awakening and decolonization of the mind, and ultimately, of forestry. It is argued that a re-framing of the conventional forestry narrative is necessary for the transformation of settler-colonial relations, and for the interception and dismantling of sustained structures of dispossession and injustices that are reproduced through established organizational regimes and systems that exist today, such as BC’s forest tenure system.

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Indigenous federations in the Peruvian Amazon : perspectives from the Ashéninka and Yine-Yami peoples (2015)

The emergence of a globalized model of development in Peru, based on extraction of natural resources, has led to the rise of indigenous movements. One of the strategies to address the negative impacts of public policies created to support this model is through the creation of indigenous federations. Indigenous federations have emerged as a strategy of indigenous peoples to make their voices heard and determine their own future. Scholars, federation representatives, and community members themselves have identified the strengthened relationships between representatives and community members as a major challenge for indigenous movements. The question that frames this study is: how could representation by indigenous federations be improved, from the points of view of indigenous peoples’ epistemologies, ontologies, axiologies, and methodologies? In alliance with six Ashéninka and Yine-Yami indigenous communities and their local federations, we investigate their federational system of self-government. Through innovative and culturally sensitive methods of co-creating knowledge using emancipatory theories, this study addresses two objectives: (1) to identify factors that contribute indigenous federations’ representatives to effectively achieve communities’ objectives; and (2) to articulate recommendations to improve indigenous federations. These two objectives were attained with input from community members and federation representatives. Results show that the principal factors that explain representatives’ sources of capacity to address member communities’ objectives are primarily to establish close interpersonal relationships and to cultivate spiritual, ethical, and moral behaviours between representatives and community members. Five recommendations are identified by Ashéninka and Yine-Yami peoples to enhance their institutions: (1) to define the jurisdiction of the federations; (2) to formalize the federations; (3) to improve the processes of interaction; (4) to strengthen their self-determined indigenous economies; and (5) to increase political participation. The results inform current indigenous politics that aim to have a larger influence on the regional and even national formulation of public policies that impact the Peruvian Amazon. The recognition and practice of a pluri-national state and the need to establish more meaningful indicators of ethno-development are important in the formulation of the factors influencing a positive change and a way to address current and future conflicts around use of natural resources.

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Narrating changing foodways : wild edible plant knowledge and traditional food systems in Mapuche lands of the Andean temperate forests, Chile (2015)

Despite increases in food production worldwide, we face a global food crisis. Yet, the literature on food vulnerability tends to emphasize cultivated foods, overlooking the importance of wild edible plants. This work explores the state of ethnobotanical knowledge on wild edible plants and changing foodways in a Mapuche community residing in the Andean temperate forests, Chile. This research contributes to an understanding of the influence of historical and contemporary eco-cultural processes on traditional ecological knowledge and food systems. I used ethnography, complemented with ethnobotanical techniques, weekly food diaries, local market surveys and oral histories. A total of 47 wild edible plants (28% exotic) belonging to 34 families were recorded. While some species were still consumed, many were no longer used. Despite a wealth of knowledge held by adults and elders, new generations were not learning what the elders had once learned. Since the Mapuche pedagogy is oral and in situ, the lack of access to forests and the formal school regime were reported as interrupting the transmission of environmental knowledge and skills. The decreasing consumption of wild edibles was mostly associated with a lack of access to gathering sites due to land grabbing, the scarcity of many species, the absence of children to go gathering and the loss of knowledge as a result of temporary migration. Wild edible plants are part of a wider Mapuche food system which, according to participants, has drastically shifted overtime. These shifts and increasing dependence on industrialized foods were associated with common chronic health conditions and lower life expectations. The decreased use of wild edibles and the changes on traditional foodways are interlinked, and land tenure regimes are a key for understanding current scenarios. While ancestral land claims remain unresolved, protected areas that surround the community may play an important role for local wellbeing by reinforcing knowledge systems and traditional practices related to food procurement and healthcare. Projects aiming to revitalize traditional foods are needed to recover the local food cultures of indigenous peoples for long-term collective health, and the reclamation of food sovereignty as a right.

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Climate change, forests, and communities : identifying the range of acceptable human interventions in forested ecosystems (2014)

Forest management is presently undergoing major changes to adapt to a changing climate. The objective of this research is to examine the variation in perceived acceptability of potential forest management interventions that can mitigate the risks of climate change among rural forest-based communities in British Columbia (BC) and Alberta. Engaging communities that will be impacted by such changes allows for the formation of forest policy that benefits local users. To accomplish this, four communities were selected for case studies and a mixed method research design was employed. Three management scenarios were designed to represent a spectrum of human intervention in forested ecosystems: continuing the status quo of planting local selectively bred seed; implementing assisted migration of tree populations by utilizing genomic and climatic knowledge; and genetically engineering trees to grow well in a changing climate. Three qualitative focus groups were conducted in each community and an exit Q sort exercise was administered to measure the perceived acceptance of a set of nine forest adaptation management scenarios. In tandem, a survey was administered that collected attitudinal data on social and political issues that were used to identify participants’ cultural worldviews. This data was used to determine if the theory of cultural cognition of risk (CCR) shaped the way participants perceived adaptation strategies. Results indicate that forester participants perceived the assisted migration-based strategies as relatively less acceptable compared to the other social groups. Environmentalist participants prioritized adaptation strategies that featured mixed species and business participants perceived all of the adaptation strategies more neutrally. Cultural cognition of risk was determined to play a role in shaping perceptions of the adaptation strategies in that those who were classified as individualists were most likely to perceive the local-based strategies as acceptable and least likely to perceive the assisted migration-based strategies as acceptable. Conversely, hierarchist participants were more likely to perceive assisted migration-based strategies as acceptable than the other cultural groups. In studying the perceptions of forest-dependent community residents, delivery of forestry-related climate change adaptation policy can be tailored to address the concerns and issues that these communities face.

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Red alder : a qualitative supply chain analysis in coastal British Columbia, Canada (2013)

Red alder (Alnus rubra, Bong.) has been identified as a potentially important species in the literature related to climate change in coastal British Columbia. This research project was conducted to address the question, “What steps are needed to develop an integrated hardwood supply chain in coastal BC?” Using multiple informant interviews, and combining these with secondary data sources and a social and historical context, the aim of this study was to generate recommendations on what steps would be needed to develop a viable hardwood supply chain on the coast of BC. The major issues that were identified during the literature review were combined with ones that emerged during the interviews, and together, form the results of this study. Specifically, key emergent issues revolved around timber supply, products, markets, production, and the supply chain for red alder. The results of the study shed light on a perceived conifer bias, the need to evaluate the existing red alder forest inventory, variation in hardwood harvest methods, the potential impacts of climate change, and the impact government forest policy has on the hardwood industry in BC. Further results pertained to the manufacturing and marketing of non-commodity (value-added) wood products, and the challenges to actors throughout the hardwood supply chain in 2011. Based on the review of existing literature and the results of this study, a large and coordinated effort will be required to adequately develop the supply chain given the existing economic conditions. Strategic decisions need to be implemented at many different levels to foster a vibrant hardwood supply chain. The current hardwood supply chain in coastal BC is weakening, and inefficiencies are present throughout the supply chain. Transforming this body of knowledge into a cohesive plan is what is needed to foster a vibrant and competitive hardwood manufacturing industry on the coast of BC that includes red alder.

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Material selection by architects for green building design (2012)

Green architecture is an increasingly lucrative segment of the building industry, which has created a market opportunity for construction materials that successfully promote themselves as green. To identify avenues for improving the marketing of wood products, it has become critical to understand what architects, the foremost specifiers of building materials, look for in the green materials they select. This research examines the factors that influence architects in their choice of materials for green building design, to determine if current practice in green architecture is changing designer preferences for building materials and product attributes. The project also aims to establish the degree to which architects consider wood as a suitable material for green building construction. In 2009, a web-based questionnaire was designed to obtain firsthand feedback from a random sample of 220 North-American architects. Respondents were asked to compare green building design to conventional building design, with respect to material selection criteria and priorities. Results showed that material selection remains largely attribute-based, as indicated by the strong influence of LEED, and the low use of decisional software to assist in the evaluation of product environmental performance. Respondents revealed that the local availability of materials was rated much more important for green building design than for conventional buildings design, and that durability, quantified health impacts, and salvaged/recycled content, were considered the most useful information items when specifying materials destined for green buildings. Wood products were prized for their renewability, and viewed as having the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of green buildings. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of architects indicated that following LEED certification guidelines did not hinder the use of wood products for, and in at least a third of cases, architects actually specified more wood products for non-structural components, finishings and furnishings. Though embodied energy and carbon were not currently perceived as the most useful environmental product information items, architects predicted that future material selection criteria would include improved and comparable product performance data, with priority conceded to low energy, low carbon, and health-safe materials.

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Limitations and opportunities for small and medium forest enterprises in The Gambia : an exploration of the business environment, business development services, and financial services (2011)

Small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) can promote the sustainable use of forested ecosystems, while also contributing to the livelihoods of forest-dependent people. SMFEs often face several challenges that threaten their ability to develop and grow, therefore, they usually require support in: reforming the Business Environment (BE), accessing Business Development Services (BDSs), and obtaining Financial Services (FSs). According to the literature, in The Gambia, the environment for community forestry has improved and communities have received training for developing sustainable SMFEs. Nevertheless, more information is needed about the challenges facing these enterprises, especially with regard to their access to FSs. This qualitative research had three objectives: 1) identify the opportunities and limiting factors facing SMFEs regarding the BE of The Gambia; 2) determine the opportunities and constraints of SMFEs concerning their business development and their need for BDSs; and 3) evaluate the accessibility to FSs for SMFEs, and determine strategies to improve the delivery of these services. A multiple case study approach was employed. In total, 16 SMFEs and 14 financial institutions were studied in the Western Region of The Gambia. Results indicate that the government has exerted a positive impact on the studied SMFEs by devolving land tenure to local communities, coupled with capacity building and support activities, and the application of simplified regulations. Associations of enterprises have been valuable in supplementing government efforts. Nevertheless, ill-conceived policies tied with weak enforcement, corruption and illegal activities, are major limitations still confronting wood-related SMFEs in the BE of The Gambia. The studied enterprises are at different stages in their business development; nevertheless, all revealed the need for a continual provision of BDSs. Concerning FSs, our data show that SMFEs have easy access to deposit accounts, but face limitations when accessing credit, especially from banks. Cooperative credit unions have been notable in providing loans; however, NGOs, associations, and government projects have taken the lead in delivering credit-only schemes. This study offers an updated view of SMFEs in The Gambia and illustrates some of the major challenges still facing them. Additionally, it is a contribution to the literature on small-scale forest enterprises and microfinance.

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Recent Tri-Agency Grants

The following is a selection of grants for which the faculty member was principal investigator or co-investigator. Currently, the list only covers Canadian Tri-Agency grants from years 2013/14-2016/17 and excludes grants from any other agencies.

  • Novel environmental management interventions in the Anthropocene - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Insight Grants (2016/2017)
  • ENERGY - Environmental performance and the future of Canada's forest industry: what we know, don't know, and ought to know - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Knowledge Synthesis Grants (2015/2016)
  • Enhancing effectiveness in community forest enterprises - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Insight Grants (2015/2016)
  • Fostering community forest enterprises with a multilateral funding mechanism for mitigating climate change: examing REDD+ and the roles of social capital, gender and institutional legitimacy - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Insight Development Grants (2013/2014)

Current Students & Alumni

This is a small sample of students and/or alumni that have been supervised by this researcher. It is not meant as a comprehensive list.
 

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