Biocultural approaches to environmental management and monitoring: theory and practice from the cultural rainforests of Kitasoo/Xai’xais Territory




DeRoy, Bryant

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Biocultural approaches to Environmental Management (EM) and monitoring are an emerging strategy in sustainability planning. Unlike functional ecological approaches to EM, which exclude humans from ecological systems, biocultural EM approaches incorporate humans, communities and their values as integral part of ecological systems, and are grounded in collaborative processes that develop locally relevant management objectives and monitoring practices. Biocultural indicators are a key aspect of biocultural EM, providing links between worldviews, knowledge systems, agencies and institutions at various scales to guide and streamline implementation of management objectives. Although many Indigenous Peoples have been continually practicing biocultural approaches to EM for thousands of years, challenges exist in contemporary EM scenarios where multiple worldviews, political boundaries and knowledge systems collide. Some of the challenges or gaps in contemporary biocultural approaches are based in theory, and others are in practice. In Chapter One I highlight one of these gaps – the lack of guiding criteria to develop biocultural indicators in contemporary biocultural EM and monitoring. To address this gap, I propose a novel suite of six criteria (culturally salient, supportive of place-based relationships, inclusive, sensitive to impacts, perceptible, linked to human well-being) drawn from a case study in Kitasoo/Xai’xais Territory in the area now referred to as the North and Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada. In Chapter Two, I highlight a challenge in practice—the development of spatial models that incorporate a community-led approach. I show how this community-engaged approach benefitted the development and application of a landscape scale suitability model for culturally modified trees, a priority biocultural indicator. In conclusion, this theoretical and practical work identifies opportunities to amend existing Provincial and Federal legislation in order to support biocultural approaches to EM in Canada and shows how biocultural approaches may be applied in other social-ecological systems near and abroad.



Biocultural, Ecosystem Based Management, Environmental Management, Culturally Modified Trees, Indicators, Spatial Analysis, Multi-criteria Evaluation, Indigenous-led, locally-led