Huckleberry branch with berries    Non-timber Forests Products: Historical and Current Use

Current First Nations Use & Management of Non-Timber Forest Products

 1 | FN Historical
 2 | FN Current
 3 | Early Commercial
 4 | Current Commercial


The spread of European settlement and development created a new pattern of land ownership and use across British Columbia. These changes severely impacted the cyclical, managed use of non-timber forest resources by First Nations. First Nations integrated elements of the new economy into their traditional lifestyle by adopting some non-native foods and goods, and certain non-native livelihood strategies. At the same time, First Nations endeavored to maintain the seasonal hunting, gathering and traditional activities that supplied them with foods and materials. The collection of non-timber forest products in this context became more difficult as land was overtaken for forestry or development and as First Nations members sought employment in the new economy. Many communities that depended heavily on non-timber forest products were forced to pursue alternative livelihood strategies.

Currently, a number of First Nations are attempting to revitalize and re-establish the traditional utilization, management practices, and harvesting of non-timber forest products. First Nations Elders are educating their communities on the essential importance of re-connecting to the land base with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). First Nations are also revisiting this heritage in the search for new strategies for community development and revitalized traditions.

Current Use of Non-Timber Forest Products

Currently, some First Nations are marketing non-timber forest products based on traditional uses. The goal of these activities is to encourage economic growth within the community through the development of non-timber forest products based businesses (7). Raw materials for these businesses are normally harvested from traditional territories. A wide variety of non-timber forest products are used for a broad range of purposes, including food products, arts and crafts, and personal care products. These products are packaged and produced to meet the needs of the current consumer market (8).

Click on the bracketed number above or the image below to view the corresponding video.

7 View the Siska NTFP Company Video 8 View the Product Development Video
  Siska NTFP

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Current Management and Community Development Possibilities

Many First Nations communities perceive current non-native resource management practices as contrary to traditionally held values. For example, there is enormous concern that many valuable non-timber forest resources are being damaged and destroyed through unsustainable forest management practices (9). Many First Nations peoples believe that an adaptation of traditional management methods (10) would be more sustainable. In some communities, revitalization of traditional management methods and cultural uses of these resources provide opportunities for Elders to educate the community about traditional resource use and cultural teachings (11). For First Nations, non-timber forest products continue to be an important part of community. Opportunities for economic and cultural revitalization exist in the enhancement and development of non-timber forest products.

We look at the practices of the past to develop an economic base for our future. By practicing sound ecological principles of sustainable harvest, we enhance our economic and social values through age-old cultural and spiritual values.
(Siska Traditions Product List)

Click on the bracketed number above or the image below to view the corresponding video.

9 View the Sustainable Practices Video 10 View the Traditional Knowledge Video 11 View the Learning from Elders Video

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from Elders

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