A multi-dimensional framework and its application to aboriginal co-management arrangements in the forest sector of Canada

J.L. Shuter and S. Kant 1


The single dimensional typologies and narrow focus of existing comparative criteria have led to limited considerations of the complex dimensions of co-management regimes. As a means of addressing the need for a more comprehensive mechanism for categorizing and comparing aboriginal-involved co-management arrangements, we present a three-dimensional typology and broad spectrum of comparative criteria for classifying and comparing aboriginal-oriented co-management agreements in the Canadian forestry sector. The three dimensions of the proposed typology of co-management arrangements are the general circumstances that led to the development of the co-management arrangement (catalyst), level of participation/authority transfer, and forest management scope. In addition to the typology component, the classificatory framework also includes broad sets of category-specific "descriptive" criteria and "comparative criteria". The "descriptive criteria" are general in scope and intended primarily for summarizing the general scope and structure of each arrangement (e.g. the parties directly involved, the areal extent of the land base, and the number and type of resources), while the "comparative criteria" were developed to serve as the basis for inter and intra-category comparisons of co-management arrangements, as well as to assess the extent to which a given arrangement is compatible with principles of sustainable forest management (e.g. the locus and structure of decision-making power, the scope and content of management objectives, and the protection and incorporation of aboriginal values and knowledge). Finally, to demonstrate the utility and comprehensiveness of the proposed typology and comparative criteria, the entire framework is used to classify and compare several examples of forest-related co-management arrangements that involve Canadian aboriginal communities.

I. Introduction

Forest ecosystems have held tremendous cultural, spiritual and socio-economic values for Canadian Aboriginal peoples (Notzke 1994). But, until recently, most Aboriginal communities have been excluded from participating in large-scale resource management activities conducted on their traditional use lands (MacGregor 2000). In recent decades however, there has been increasing recognition that the forestry sector is an important area for enhancing Aboriginal involvement in natural resource management (Treseder & Krogman 1999). This recent awakening of governments and industry is directly related to domestic policy changes [i.e. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), Ontario's Class Environmental Assessment for Timber Management on Crown Lands (EAB 1994)], case-specific judicial rulings (such as the Delgamuukw judgement and R. vs. Sparrow (NAFA & IOG 2000), and international recognition of Aboriginal rights (such as the Convention on Biodiversity and Agenda 21). In this climate, co-operative management is being viewed as both a mechanism for furthering Aboriginal participation in the forestry sector and as a viable and appropriate alternative to conventional forest management institutions (Beckley 1998). The growing popularity of co-operative management arrangements with Aboriginal People has spawned the need for further research A comprehensive understanding, of both the common elements and the diversity that exists with regards to different co-management arrangements, is critical from a resource management and policy-making perspective. The stakeholders could also benefit from a greater awareness of the practical manner in which co-management arrangements are structured and operate as social institutions. One effective way of addressing these needs would be to develop a standard but comprehensive typology, which allows for the categorization and comparison of co-management arrangements, and to develop a set of criteria which allow for within and/or between category comparisons of co-management arrangements. Many authors, such as Sen & Nielson 1996; Berkes 1994; Smith 1991, suggested typologies but these are uni-dimensional - focus only on a single major aspect. Similarly, some authors (i.e. Smith 1991; NAFA 2000) have suggested some comparative criteria based either on basic structural elements (e.g. the number and type of parties involved), or operational characteristics (e.g. the nature of conflict resolution mechanisms) of the arrangements. Hence, the existing typologies fail to categorize co-management regimes in a comprehensive, multi-dimensional manner which acknowledges the full complexity of the institution, and existing criteria sets are limited in scope, in that they tend to be developed and applied based on a singular focus.

The purpose of this paper is to address the gap in the existing literature. We suggest a comprehensive multi-dimensional framework, which includes both a multi-dimensional typology and a set of descriptive and evaluative criteria, and apply this framework to the Aboriginal-involved, forest resource-related co-management arrangements in Canada. The proposed framework could also provide insight into whether the social and economic dimensions of sustainable forest management are being adequately addressed by the Canadian examples of Aboriginal co-management arrangements.

II. Framework structure

The framework has two components - three-dimensional typology and comparative criteria for co-management agreements. The first-dimension is based on the phenomenon or occurrence that served as the catalyst for the development of co-management agreements (Abbott 2001; Notzke 1993). The first-dimension categories include: comprehensive land claims agreements; specific claim-based agreements; and government or industrial policy-based agreements (Figure 1). These categories are quite valuable, as there are substantial between-category differences and within-category similarities, in relation to the type and strength of legitimacy accorded to a given agreement, the degree to which decision-making power is shared between Aboriginal and other parties and the comprehensiveness of that agreement in terms of the number, type and spatial extent of resources it applies to.

The next two dimensions of typology are based on the basic definition and components of the concepts of "co-management" defined in the context of forest management. `Co-management' is a term that combines two key, but distinct concepts. The first of these is the `co-' or `co-operative' component of co-management, which is defined as the process of "work[ing] or act[ing] together" (Hanks 1989). In relation to co-management regimes, the co-operative component refers to the relationship that exists between the parties involved in the agreement and can be further interpreted as referring to the extent to which those parties share power and responsibilities in relation to management. A classificatory framework based on the co-operative concept should include categories that fall along the continuum based on level of power and responsibility held by local stakeholders, in relation to those held by government and or industrial partners. Sen and Neilson (1996) and Berkes (1994) used "Co" aspect of co-management to propose a typology of co-management agreements. We continue to use their typology for our second-level classes. Hence, our second-dimension classes focus on the level of power and responsibility that the involved Aboriginal groups hold in relation to forest management practices (Figure 2).

The third-dimension classes are based on the `management' aspect of co-management. Management is generally defined as including the technique, practice or science of manipulating or controlling something and/or its skilful and resourceful use (Hanks 1989). In specific relation to forest resources, management has been defined as including long-term efforts both to harvest forest products and enhance forest productivity and regeneration capacity (Kellomaki 1998). Translated into practical terms, forest management would involve the development of a management plan, which would itself include the statement of land management objectives and an overall land-use strategy; an inventory and description of diverse forest resource values; and a detailed description of operational procedures (Kimmins 1997). As well as the planning components, forest management also includes operational management activities, as well as the manufacturing, transport and sale of the final product (ibid. 1997). Based on the importance of the `management' component of co-management and the increasing popularity of `life-cycle thinking' as an appropriate approach for both developing and evaluating sustainable approaches to forest management (Castro et al. 1999), third-dimension classification is based on different components of forest management (Figure 3), which relates to the extent to which a given arrangement includes provisions for all of the components/stages of sustainable forest management (Kimmins 1997). However, second-dimension and third-dimension are parallel. Hence, once assigned to catalyst-based categories (the first tier), arrangements in will then be further and separately classified based on both the level of power and responsibility sharing and the comprehensiveness/scope of management activities included under the agreement terms (Figure 4).

We include two types of comparative criteria - descriptive and evaluative criteria. The descriptive criteria are intended primarily for summarizing the structural elements that have implications for the basic scope and structure of different co-management arrangements. In contrast, the evaluative criteria are intended to extend beyond basic descriptive elements, to assess the extent to which a given arrangement is compatible with the principles of sustainable forest management, as defined in Canada's National Forest Strategy (CCFM 1992) via its contribution to the long-term health of forest ecosystems, and the current and future environmental, economic, social and cultural needs of the people that depend on them. Comparative criteria sets are similar, but somewhat specific to arrangement type as defined by the categories contained in the first tier. Hence, the criteria sets for crisis-based co-management arrangements are listed in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1 - Descriptive criteria for crisis-based co-management agreements and sources which have employed similar criteria.

Table 2 - Evaluative criteria for crisis-based co-management agreements and sources which have employed similar criteria.


The multi-dimensional framework can be applied to any of the wide and varied collection of Canadian co-management arrangements that involve Aboriginal peoples. A detailed discussion of the results of such an application to crisis-based co-management arrangements will be outlined. Three crisis-based co-management arrangements are selected for evaluation: the Little Red River Cree Nation - Tallcree First Nation Co-management Agreement in Alberta, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Trilateral Agreement in Quebec and the Memorandum of Understanding between the B.C. government and the Gitsi'is First Nation regarding the Khutzeymateen Park/Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Based on an assessment of the details concerning these different arrangements, the following classifications were made regarding "level of participation" and "management scope" components that make up Tier 2 of the typology (illustrated in Figures 5 and 6).

Figure 5 - Tier 2 classification of three examples of "crisis-based" co-management arrangements: "level of participation" component

Figure 6 - Tier 2 classification of three examples of "crisis-based" co-management arrangements: "management scope" component

In the Albertan example, the balance of power within the primary co-management body established by the agreement, is slightly skewed towards the Aboriginal participants. However, once rendered, the decisions of the co-management board are not immediately enforceable, but must be approved by the provincial Minister of the Environment. Because ministerial authority over the management decision-making process is final, the co-management arrangement established under the MOU with the Little Red River Cree Nation and the Tallcree First Nation can be categorized as being equivalent to a "management board" or a less participatory "advisory committee", depending on how much control is actually exerted over the decision-making process by the Minister on a practical basis. In contrast, the decision-making power in the co-management arrangement established by the Trilateral Agreement in Quebec, is shared equally amongst the Aboriginal and governmental co-signatories at both the recommendation development and final authority levels. As such it is one of the only agreements that can be considered to be fully co-operative and whose co-management bodies can be confidently classified under the "management board" category. In comparison, the co-management arrangement established under the MOU for the Khutzeymateen Park in BC receives a lower classification under the "level of participation" scheme. Both the Aboriginal and governmental parties have equal representation on the co-management body established by the agreement, but beyond the formulation of the general guiding objectives for the management of the park, the body does not have consistent involvement in the management of the park and only convenes to discuss management-related issues of particular concern to the First Nation co-signatory, as they arise. Additionally, like the Albertan example, the provincial Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP) has final authority over all decisions made by the co-management body. As such, the Khutzeymateen co-management arrangement can be properly classified under the "advisory board" category, within the "level of participation" scheme.

The management-related scopes of the co-management arrangements established under both the MOU with the Little Red River Cree Nation and Tallcree First Nation and the Trilateral Agreement with the Barriere Lake Algonquins, are relatively broad and both either directly involve or have the potential to involve all of the management functions included under the "management scope" component of the typology. Although neither of the agreements contains detailed provisions concerning the direct participation of the Aboriginal co-signatories in timber and non-timber related harvesting and operational activities, or the transport and sale of forest products (with the exception of the provision in the Albertan MOU that awards timber harvesting and sale rights to development corporations owned by the First Nation parties), both contain provisions regarding the facilitation of forest resource-related economic development activities which could include participation in any or all of these activities. In contrast to the Albertan and Quebec examples, the scope of the co-management arrangement established under the MOU for the Khutzeymateen is relatively narrow and is generally restricted to the formulation of guiding objectives and the potential for limited, employee-level participation in the operational activities of the park. Although the general guiding objectives outlined in the MOU were co-operatively developed by both the Aboriginal and governmental parties, the provincial MELP has control over the formulation of operational objectives and the carrying out of general operational activities within the park. Representatives of the Gitsi'is tribe only participate in relation to specific issues of interest as they arise. Additionally, although the MOU contains a vague commitment to promote park-related economic development opportunities which could involve participation in operational activities, the operational level management planning for these activities generally falls under the mandate of the MELP.

The basic structures of the three examples of crisis-based co-management arrangements evaluated (as defined by the descriptive criteria) are described in Table 3 and the results of the application of evaluative criteria to these arrangements are summarized in Table 4.

Although similar in some respects (e.g. with regards to the economic inputs and returns associated with Aboriginal and governmental/industrial representatives, the appointment of co-management body representatives by the involved stakeholders and the existence of provisions for the protection of Aboriginal rights), there is a great deal of variation between the different crisis-based co-management arrangements. For example, the decision-making process is consensus-based in some but carried out by double-majority votes in others, provisions for the incorporation of traditional knowledge only exist for one example, only one arrangement contains mechanisms for external stakeholder involvement, conflict resolution mechanisms are not consistently well-defined and only one arrangement is rooted in terms that are legally binding.

Table 3 - Application of the "descriptive criteria" to three examples of "crisis-based" co-management arrangements</p>

IV. Conclusion

The nature of the impetus for the development of a given co-management arrangement, appears to play a major role in the determining the complexity, comprehensiveness, legal legitimacy and permanency of a given arrangement, as well as the sheer size of the area that is subject to its terms. For example, co-management arrangements which stem from the settlement of Comprehensive Claims are constitutionally protected and extremely comprehensive in their coverage, often including renewable and non-renewable resources, as well as economic and social development-related projects. In contrast, the terms of crisis and policy-based co-management arrangements are not subject to such strong legal protection, nor are they as comprehensive in their coverage. Due to the urgent nature of the circumstances under which they are often negotiated, crisis-based co-management arrangements tend to be relatively ad-hoc and temporary in nature. Policy-based co-management arrangements tend to be associated with greater legal and temporal security than crisis-based arrangements are, as they are often supported by general legislation. Both types of co-management arrangement are considerably less wide-ranging in their coverage in comparison with those stemming from Comprehensive Claims settlements and they often focus specifically on forest-related resources. An initial division of specific arrangements into categories based on the catalyst that

Table 4 - Application of the "evaluative criteria" to three examples of "crisis-based" co-management arrangements

resulted in their respective development, appears to be valuable for grouping together co-management arrangements that are somewhat comparable with one another in terms of the structural attributes discussed above. Although the full application of the multidimensional comparative framework was only carried out with three examples of "crisis-based" co-management arrangements, the second tier of the typology and the sets of descriptive and evaluative arrangements are equally applicable to and valuable for gaining an understanding of Comprehensive Claims-based and policy-based co-management arrangements.

Although the reliance on structural details can result in evaluations that are somewhat divorced from context, the application of both tiers of the typology, as well as the evaluative and descriptive criteria, does enable detailed assessments and comparative analyses of forest-oriented co-management arrangements that include Aboriginal peoples as participating parties. As co-operative management is increasingly turned to as a mechanism for both improving Aboriginal involvement in the forest sector and furthering general sustainability goals, the need to develop a detailed understanding of the range of co-management models available, as well as their associated attributes (including benefits and shortcomings), is growing. Hopefully, both the typology and criteria sets presented in this paper and the results obtained from their respective applications to the specific case studies, can serve as steps towards improvements in the understanding of forest-related co-management arrangements involving Canadian Aboriginal communities. An enhanced understanding could allow for the identification of areas for improvement in specific types of co-management models, as well as an overall assessment of the general potential of co-operative management, in relation to the achievement of sustainable resource management goals.

Literature Cited

Beckley, TM. 1998. Moving toward consensus-based forest management: a comparison of industrial, co-managed, community and small private forests in Canada. The Forestry Chronicle. 74(5):736-44.

Berkes, F. 1994. Co-management: bring the two solitude. Northern Perspectives. 22(2-3):18-20.

Castro, AP, ER Hall and WL Adamowicz. 1999. Life-cycle assessment for sustainable forest management. Working paper for the Sustainable Forest Management Network of Centres of Excellence.

EAB (Environmental Assessment Board). 1994. Reasons for decision and decision: class assessment by the Ministry of Natural Resources for Timber Management on Crown Lands in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario.

Hanks, P. 1989. The Collins Concise Dictionary Plus. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd: Glasgow.

Higgins, C. 1998. The role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in managing for biodiversity. The Forestry Chronicle 74(3):323-6.

Kellomaki, S, ed.. 1998. Forest Resources and Sustainable Forest Management. Fapet Oy: Helsinki.

Kimmins, H. 1997. Balancing Act: Environmental Issues in Forestry. 2nd ed.. University of British Columbia Press: Vancouver.

Kruse, J, D Klein, S Braund, L Moorehead and B Simeone. 1998. Co-management of natural resources: a comparison of two caribou management systems. Human Organization. 57(4):447-458.

McGregor, D. 2000. From exclusion to co-existence:aboriginal participation in Ontario forest management planning. PhD Thesis, Faculty of Forestry: University of Toronto.

NAFA (National Aboriginal Forestry Association). 1995. Co-management and other forms of agreement in the forest sector. Discussion paper. Ottawa.

NAFA (National Aboriginal Forestry Association) and IOG (The Institute on Governance). 2000. Aboriginal-forest sector partnerships: lessons for future collaboration. Ottawa.

Notzke, C. 1993. Aboriginal peoples and natural resources: co-management, the way of the future? National Geographic Research & Exploration. 9(4):395-401.

Notzke, C. 1994. Aboriginal peoples and natural resources in Canada. Captus University Publications: North York.

ONAS (Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat). 1997. Aboriginal economic development in Ontario: consultation and feedback report.Queen's Printer for Ontario:Toronto.

Sen, S and JR Neilson. 1996. Fisheries co-management: a comparative analysis. Marine Policy. 20(5):405-418.

Smith, PA. 1991. A survey and evaluation of natural resource agreements signed with Aboriginal people in Canada: do they result in autonomy or dependence? Thesis completed as a partial requirement for H.B.Sc.F. at Lakehead University: Thunder Bay.

Treseder, L and NT Krogman. 1999. Features of First Nation forest management institutions and implications for sustainability. The Forestry Chronicle. 75(5):793-8.

1 Faculty of Forestry, 33 Willcocks Street, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B3, Canada. [email protected]