Forest & Range Evaluation Program Cultural Heritage Monitoring

FREP Cultural HeritageThe Forest Act defines a cultural heritage resource as, "an object, a site or the ‚Äčlocation of a traditional societal practice that is of historical, cultural or archaeological significance to British Columbia, a community or an aboriginal people."

Section 10 of the Forest Planning & Practices Regulation (FPPR) further refines the definition of a cultural heritage resource under the Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA). The FPPR states the objective of government is to conserve, or, if necessary, protect, cultural heritage resources that are:

  1. The focus of a traditional use, by an Aboriginal people, and that are of continuing importance to that people
  2. Not regulated under the Heritage Conservation Act

Forest managers must propose results and strategies to meet the above objective of conserving and protecting cultural heritage resources. Several factors apply to these results and strategies:

  • The relative value or importance to a traditional use by an Aboriginal people
  • The relative abundance or scarcity of a cultural heritage resource
  • The historical extent of a traditional use by an Aboriginal people
  • The impact on government granted timber harvesting rights of conserving or protecting the resource
  • Options available for mitigating the impact that a forest practice might have on a cultural heritage resource

Current Cultural Heritage Monitoring Priorities

Traditional uses or values that may constitute a cultural heritage resource can vary considerably among First Nations across the province. Determining what cultural heritage resources or cultural values on the landscape are, and should be monitored, will therefore be an ongoing learning process for the Forest & Range Evaluation Program. Answering this question is therefore a challenge and will involve dialogue with, and participation from, First Nations.

Traditional use sites are identified by Aboriginal people as important areas of traditional practice. There may be a correspondence between archaeological and traditional use sites as some areas of traditional practice contain physical remains of past activity. However, traditional use often does not leave any detectable, physical evidence.

Cultural heritage resources may include specific traditional use areas, sites or features on the landscape. Some examples may include:

  • Important resource gathering areas
  • Sites of spiritual significance
  • Culturally modified trees
  • Ceremonial sites
  • Natural resources, such as plants, animals or habitat types, to which cultural values may be attached. For example, Western redcedar (Thuja plicata), yellow cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) and salmon are of central importance to many coastal First Nations culture.
  • Plants with culturally significant medicinal, food or material uses are often associated with specific habitat types. A few examples are tea plants found in swampy areas and pine mushrooms (Tricholoma magnivelare).