In Canada, governments have historically promoted economic development in rural regions by promoting exploitation of natural resources, particularly forests. Forest resources are an economic development driver in many of the more than 80% of native communities located in forest regions. But forests also provide aboriginal people with cultural and spiritual values, and non-timber forest amenities (e.g., biodiversity, wildlife harvests for meat and fur, etc.), that are incompatible with timber exploitation. Some cultural and other amenities can only be satisfied by maintaining a certain amount of timber in an old-growth state. In that case, resource constraints might be too onerous to satisfy development needs. We employ compromise programming and fuzzy programming to identify forest management strategies that best compromise between development and other objectives, applying our models to an aboriginal community in northern Alberta. In addition to describing how mathematical programming techniques can be applied to regional development and forest management, we conclude from the analysis that no management strategy is able to satisfy all of the technical, environmental and social/cultural constraints and, at the same time, offer aboriginal peoples forest-based economic development. Nonetheless, we demonstrate that extant forest management policies can be improved upon.


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