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From Invisibility to Transparency: Identifying the Implications

Nancy J Turner, University of Victoria
Robin Gregory, Decision Research & Value Scope Research, Inc.
Cheryl Brooks, Indigenuity Consulting Group
Lee Failing, Compass Resource Management
Terre Satterfield, University of British Columbia

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This paper explores the need for a broader and more inclusive approach to decisions about land and resources, one that recognizes the legitimacy of cultural values and traditional knowledge in environmental decision making and policy. Invisible losses are those not widely recognized or accounted for in decisions about resource planning and decision making in resource- and land-use negotiations precisely because they involve considerations that tend to be ignored by managers and scientists or because they are often indirect or cumulative, resulting from a complex, often cumulative series of events, decisions, choices, or policies. First Nations communities in western North America have experienced many such losses that, together, have resulted in a decline in the overall resilience of individuals and communities. We have identified eight types invisible losses that are often overlapping and cumulative: cultural/lifestyle losses, loss of identity, health losses, loss of self-determination and influence, emotional and psychological losses, loss of order in the world, knowledge losses, and indirect economic losses and lost opportunities. To render such invisible losses more transparent, which represents the first step in developing a more positive and equitable basis for decision making and negotiations around land and resources, we recommend six processes: focusing on what matters to the people affected, describing what matters in meaningful ways, making a place for these concerns in decision making, evaluating future losses and gains from a historical baseline, recognizing culturally derived values as relevant, and creating better alternatives for decision making so that invisible losses will be diminished or eliminated in the future.

Key words

First Nations; decision making; resource use; negotiations; cultural values
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087