This study is a forest ethnography, which is an ethnographic genre that explores “what forests are” and “how they came to be” primarily by examining the complex social histories of those that live near forested spaces. Specifically this study is focused on Cumberland, B.C., and how the residents of this small community on Vancouver Island rallied to purchase 110 hectares of local forest as a communal holding, reinvigorating their social and economic future.
The creation of the Cumberland Forest required the community to reimagine the Forest as a communal space, not an instrumental economic commodity. Space theory and communitarianism, interviews and discourse analysis, were among the theories and methods used to explore the Forest’s creation. The research concluded that forest preservation can create viable economic contexts in which local forests can be envisioned as shared mutual assets – as a “commons.” Place-making may provide a model for fostering an emergent public ethic in shared forested land, bestowing an alternative foundation for Community Economic Development (CED) that is not based in utility. In this new articulation of CED, other communities at the end of old-growth logging may see a transition model for themselves.
The Cumberland commons : a forest ethnography is the Masters Thesis of Cumberland resident Stacy Harper.