Co-management of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site: panarchy as a means of assessing linked cultural and ecological landscapes for sustainability




Wheatley, Wendy Christy

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I analyse the emergence of a co-management system for protected area governance at Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on the northwest coast of Canada. Of primary concern is the analysis of the co-management structure for properties that are essential for maintaining a sustainable trajectory and an exploration of the key mechanisms for its development. The underlying framework for the analysis in this thesis is panarchy which is based on four categories of factors for building resilience: 1) learning to live with change and uncertainty; 2) nurturing diversity for re-organization and renewal; 3) combining different kinds of knowledge; and 4) creating opportunity for self-organization. This framework emerges from the conclusions of a multi-year team study of the dynamics of socio-ecological systems and how to enhance the resilience of these complex systems to tackle complexity, uncertainty and global environmental change. As the Archipelago Management Board (AMB) is the institutional structure that is managing the future of Gwaii Haanas, therefore, I focus on how this structure facilitates resilience. 1 argue that it should be an arena for flexible collaboration with multi-level governance that facilitates adaptive management (learning and building ecological knowledge into the institutional structure) and nurturing elements of resilience (cultural and ecological memory). The Lyell Island blockade in 1986, was a collective action against a crisis (cultural and environmental degradation caused by industrial logging) where key stewards and several Haida elders provided leadership, vision and trust. Parks Canada helped end the conflict by offering a management approach that accommodates Haida rights to their traditional lands, the formation of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Here I argue that the power-sharing structure of the AMB provides political space for experimentation. As such, the AMB appears to be an adaptive co-management system that is flexible, community-based, tailored to specific situations and supported by and working in collaboration with a concerned government agency to ensure sustainable resource management. So far, this arrangement has been able to successfully move away from a less desired trajectory toward a more sustainable one with the capacity to nurture the ecological health of Gwaii Haanas and the Haida culture on which it depends. I discuss the key role of co-management in re-coupling society to ecological feedback, creating political space for experimentation, accommodating varied ways of knowing and learning, including traditional ecological knowledge to link management with ecological understanding, and extending management into the social domain. I conclude that management in the implementation of protected area policy in Canadian National Parks could benefit from a more explicit collaboration with local communities who have special interests and site-specific ecological knowledge to better understand and monitor complex systems for long-term sustainability of protected areas.



national parks, Canada, British Columbia, Queen Charlotte Islands