Local level criteria and indicator frameworks: A tool used to assess aboriginal forest ecosystem values.
Marie-Christine Adam, Daniel Kneeshaw.
Although the importance of aboriginal knowledge, values and perspectives in sustainable development has been recognised for many decades, worldwide examples exist showing that aboriginal involvement is less then effective. How and where to include aboriginal needs and goals has however been problematic. Ultimately, aboriginal forest values need to be considered with scientific strategies and their role and compatibility with forest conditions needs to be explored. Criteria and indicator (C&I) frameworks can be used as a platform to include community needs and goals in management decisions. This review compares aboriginal forest ecological perspectives defined by Canadian local level C&I frameworks with non-aboriginal local level C&I frameworks to identify their differences at the indicator level. Three major themes mark the differences between aboriginal and non-aboriginal indicators: (1) aboriginal frameworks introduce ecological indicators of cultural importance; (2) there is an aesthetic concern for forest operations especially if they affect cultural owners; and (3) indicators regarding the access to resources are more complex and include the sustainability of the productivity, proximity, integrity and quality of resources used in traditional activities. Results show that First Nation forest sustainability issues are in effect a combination of forest conditions and values. Inclusion of forest values in C&I frameworks is necessary because: (1) aboriginal communities do not dissociate culture from the environment and thus forest values from forest condition, (2) they have an impact on resulting forest management strategies and decisions, and (3) they offer a holistic approach to sustainability issues and a better picture of local environmental contexts.