Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Kevin Hanna

Advisor Role

Thesis Co-Supervisor

Second Advisor

D. Scott Slocombe

Advisor Role

Thesis Co-Supervisor


The community forest is increasingly seen as an alternative to industrial forestry for its perceived potential to mitigate conflict in forest resource management and planning. Theoretically, a community-based approach affords the chance to assert local values, provide local benefits, and manage resources differently than established top-down approaches. Yet practical examples of community forest initiatives in Canada reveal a host of constraints. This research uses a multiple case study design to investigate the motivations for and challenges to implementing community forests in British Columbia, Canada. Observations are drawn from four case studies (Denman Island, Malcolm Island, Cortes Island, and Creston) in order to consider implementation as an ongoing and dynamic process. Site visits and semi-structured interviews with community forest stakeholders were conducted in June 2005. Based on a synthesis of the community-based resource management and implementation literature, the analysis uses a systems approach to identify challenges at multiple spatial and temporal scales to examine the complexity of cross-scale interactions. The study outlines a sequence of process stages and associated challenges that are critical to developing successful community forests. In addition to unique, context-specific challenges, results show that low local support and awareness, low First Nations support, difficulty reaching consensus, lack of human and physical resources, poor forest health and timber profiles, weak senior government support, resistance from the industrial/scientific forestry paradigm, and competition for land and forest tenure are common challenges. Results confirm that the primary motivation for community forestry is local control of resources for local benefits; however, local development pressure is also an impetus for increasing control. This reveals a key difference between communities where forests are important from the standpoint of the traditional forest-industry compact versus those where forests are important for lifestyle and tourism. Given the range of critical challenges involved, communities pursuing community forestry must be sure of their intentions and they must be sure that community forestry is truly the appropriate route to achieving local goals.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season