Journal Article

Aboriginal people and forestry companies in Canada: possibilities and pitfalls of an informal ‘social licence’ in a contested environment

Stephen Wyatt

in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research

Volume 89, issue 5, pages 565-576
Published in print September 2016 | ISSN: 0015-752X
Published online October 2016 | e-ISSN: 1464-3626 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpw034
Aboriginal people and forestry companies in Canada: possibilities and pitfalls of an informal ‘social licence’ in a contested environment

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Industrial forestry in Canada commonly occurs on the traditional territory of Aboriginal people, and forestry companies often take actions to gain acceptance and approval of communities. Over the last two decades, the concept of ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO) has been increasingly used as a way of framing these actions in relation to regulatory licences and approval processes. Although Aboriginal views of forestry have been extensively researched, few attempts have been made to link this research to the developing concept of SLO. This article seeks to address this gap, using existing models to identify five groups of path elements that contribute to obtaining and maintaining SLO: socio-economic infrastructure, biophysical infrastructure, engagement processes, relationship building and recognition of rights. Previous research on five common forms of collaborative arrangement – impact benefit agreements, co-management, consultation processes, tenures and economic partnerships – is then reviewed to consider how these contribute to obtaining and maintain SLO. Canadian experiences demonstrate the potential benefits of direct negotiations and the advantages of combining arrangements, but also highlight the difficulty of addressing Aboriginal rights within an SLO framework.

Journal Article.  10056 words. 

Subjects: Environmental Sustainability ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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