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Forestry and Road Development: Direct and Indirect Impacts from an Aboriginal Perspective.

Marie-Christine Adam, UQAM-CEF
Daniel Kneeshaw, UQAM-CEF
Tom M Beckley, UNB faculty of forestry and environmental management

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04976-170401

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Abstract

The forest industry is a significant contributor to the development of roads and most are constructed on Aboriginal territories. Many Aboriginal communities are isolated both socially and economically and Aboriginal cultures are often described as having inherent socio-environmental relationships. Aboriginal communities, therefore, may be the most likely to benefit and be most vulnerable to the impacts of road development. We use a case study approach to explore how an Aboriginal community interprets and responds to the increasing development of roads in its territory. The results are interpreted using the theory of access in order to frame the interactions between people and nature within a cohesive system which includes elements which are spatially located, flow, interact, and can be disturbed. The dominant themes discussed as being affected by the influence of roads on access included issues of the following nature: Aboriginal, hunting, foreign, territorial and environmental. Issues pertaining to Aboriginal actors as opposed to foreign actors such as the industry or non-aboriginal hunters and fishers dominated discussions. Although the positive effects provided by roads were alluded to, focus tended towards the affected relationships and ties between the territory, the environment and Aboriginal members. Roads are associated with changes in traditional roles and practices which benefit individualistic behaviors. The access mechanisms mediating and controlling the use of resources through traditional norms and roles such as sharing, asking permission, and helping in the practice of traditional activities no longer apply effectively. Changes in the traditional spatial organization of the territory have minimized the influence of knowledge, identity, and negotiation in mediating access among communities. Results highlight that conflicts have thus resulted between and among Aboriginal communities. Also, perception of the role of the environment and ways in which traditional practices occur has altered important socio-environmental dynamics which are part of Aboriginal culture.

Key words

forest roads; Aboriginal access theory; traditional occupation; socio-environmental; integration.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087