An open letter to the decision makers in Canadian resource management

by dscepano on November 7, 2017 - 4:33pm


News article summary:

            Forest Products Association of Canada, part of the Canadian forestry industry, is concerned that a new federal management plan, concerning the health of caribou populations in Canada, is more of a risk than adequate help for the caribou. Non-governmental organizations advocate that the management plan is based solely on the impacts of industrial activities, ignoring environmental factors such as climate change, air pollution, and natural disease. They are worried that a single plan for Canadian caribou herds is not diverse enough to meet the individual needs of the 51 caribou ranges. Although, governmental officials defend the science guiding this management plan is sufficient, implying that the conditions of the caribou herds will continue to thrive in Canada.

Key concepts

Neoliberalism: an approach to management including the emergence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private corporations in resource management; the use of market-based resource management tools; and assigning monetary value to ecological services.

Governance: the notion that there are multiple actors involved in managing a resource/policy issue; or, acknowledgement that the government does not have sole responsibility of managing state resources anymore


An open letter to the decision makers in Canadian resource management

I know you can feel the tension rising as more actors become involved in resource management in Canada, due to neoliberalism. The types of conflict associated with a neoliberalist approach are cognitive and behavioural conflicts, which are difficult to resolve. Cognitive conflicts originate from different approaches/data sources used to understand the issue, such as science based on government research and science based on NGO research. With increased involvement from diverse actors, it is common for the actors to have different opinions on issue being discussed. And, behavioural conflict, basically when personalities clash, cannot be avoided when individuals with different perspectives are expected to work together.

It’s possible that conflict is rooted in a neoliberalist approach to resource management. Everyone knows it is difficult to bring people together with different opinions. So, why bother? Why not go back to a system with less conflict, where the government is the only decision-maker?

This seems like a fair argument if the article discussed the management of…well, nothing. All resource sectors in Canada, not just the forestry industry, have adopted a neoliberal management approach, recognizing the benefits of neoliberalism. News flash: Using market-based solutions and incorporating the voices of the private sector in decisions is NEW for various actors. And, they’re all facing the same challenges. So, maybe we just need time to figure out how to efficiently incorporate neoliberalism into resource management. This means that the overcoming challenges faced daily by decision-makers (you) is super important for attaining more inclusive resource management in Canada. Your battles will lead to better management over Canadian natural resources. I hope that you know this, rather than simply feeling like you’ve hit a wall.

A neoliberal approach is necessary in modern resource management because:

(1)   it allows those with small voices to be heard;

(2)   it allows for innovative management methods to be developed; and,

(3)   it strives to incorporate the values of all types of people, government, business workers, environmentalists, and even indigenous peoples

A bureaucratic approach to resource management could not accomplish these tasks, which are necessary for modern resource management in Canada. Therefore, you need to continue overcoming the challenges thrown at you, to restore balance in a system that previously only had one focus: economic development for the settler population in Canada. Today, Canada is different, and our resource management plans need to reflect these new changes.