ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Trees and forests have always played a significant role in the cultural and spiritual lives of societies. Understanding cultural importance of tree species is necessary to develop socially acceptable forest management and restoration strategies. White pine (Pinus strobus L.) used to be abundant in northeastern North America, including on the ancestral territory of the Kitcisakik Algonquin community (western Quebec, Canada). The community is calling for restoration and sustainable management of white pine on their ancestral territory. As a first step towards this goal, key informant interviews were used to document the cultural importance of white pine (Pinus strobus L.) to the Kitcisakik community. White pine was perceived as an important component of traditional life, providing several goods and services. White pine is featured in legends, used as a medicine, provides habitat for flagship wildlife species, and is a prominent part of cultural landscapes. White pine is a cultural keystone species for the Kitcisakik Algonquin community. Local people point to extensive logging as the reason behind white pine decline on the ancestral territory. They suggest that mixed plantations should be used in a culturally-adapted restoration strategy.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Cultural importance of white pine (Pinus strobus L.) to the Kitcisakik
Algonquin community of western Quebec, Canada
Yadav Uprety, Hugo Asselin, and Yves Bergeron
Abstract: Trees and forests have always played a significant role in the cultural and spiritual lives of societies. Understanding the
cultural importance of tree species is necessary to develop socially acceptable forest management and restoration strategies.
White pine (Pinus strobus L.) used to be abundant in northeastern North America, including on the ancestral territory of the
Kitcisakik Algonquin community (western Quebec, Canada). The community is calling for restoration and sustainable manage-
ment of white pine on their ancestral territory. As a first step towards this goal, key informant interviews were used to document
the cultural importance of white pine to the Kitcisakik community. White pine was perceived as an important component of
traditional life, providing several goods and services. White pine is featured in legends, is used as a medicine, provides habitat
for flagship wildlife species, and is a prominent part of cultural landscapes. White pine is a cultural keystone species for the
Kitcisakik Algonquin community. Local people point to extensive logging as the reason behind white pine decline on the
ancestral territory. They suggest that mixed plantations should be used in a culturally adapted restoration strategy.
Résumé : Les arbres et les forêts ont toujours joué un rôle important dans la culture et la spiritualité des sociétés. La compréhen-
sion de l'importance culturelle des espèces arborescentes est nécessaire pour développer des stratégies de restauration et
d'aménagement socialement acceptables. Le pin blanc (Pinus strobus L.) était autrefois plus abondant dans les forêts du nord-est
de l'Amérique du Nord, notamment sur le territoire ancestral de la communauté algonquine de Kitcisakik (Québec, Canada). La
communauté revendique la restauration et l'aménagement durable du pin blanc sur son territoire ancestral. Un premier pas vers
cet objetif a été franchi en réalisant des entrevues avec des informateurs clés de la communauté afin de documenter l'importance
culturelle de l'espèce. Le pin blanc était perçu comme une composante importante de la vie traditionnelle, fournissant de
nombreux biens et services. L'espèce figure dans des légendes, est utilisée comme plante médicinale, procure de l'habitat a
espèces fauniques d'intérêt, et est une constituante importante des paysages culturels. Le pin blanc est une espèce culturelle clé
de la communauté algonquine de Kitcisakik. Les gens de la communauté ont identifié la surexploitation des forêts de pin blanc
comme raison principale du déclin de l'espèce sur leur territoire ancestral. Ils ont suggéré que des plantations mixtes pourraient
être utilisées dans une stratégie de restauration culturellement adaptée.
Trees and forests have considerable cultural, spiritual, and eco-
logical significance for people around the world (Dudley et al.
2005;Trigger and Mulcock 2005). They provide goods and services
that benefit society in various ways. It is sometimes forests, as part
of cultural landscapes, or often specific tree species that are
deeply ingrained in the cultures and beliefs of societies. However,
the ways in which societies benefit from trees differ widely, as
patterns of resource use are shaped by the values, priorities, per-
ceptions, and expectations of each cultural group. For example,
aboriginal communities living in or close to forested areas view
their surrounding landscape as a cultural entity (Berkes and
Davidson-Hunt 2006;Ramakrishnan 2007). Forests are sacred for
them and considered an integral part of their collective identity
and culture (Young 1999). Many native trees have long held special
significance to society partly valued as economic resources, but
also as sources of inspiration, symbols of place, and metaphors for
life (Trigger and Mulcock 2005;Turner et al. 2009). The banyan
tree (Ficus benghalensis L.) in Nepal, the baobab (Adansonia spp.) in
Madagascar, and the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana
(Molina) K. Koch) in Chile are examples of such culturally impor-
tant tree species (Dudley et al. 2005).
Garibaldi and Turner (2004) were among the first to coin the
term “cultural keystone species” while referring to the impor-
tance of western red-cedar (Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don) to North-
west Coast cultures. Species that have fundamental roles in diet,
production of material goods, medicine, and (or) spiritual prac-
tices and beliefs can be designated as cultural keystone species
(Garibaldi and Turner 2004). According to Platten and Henfrey
(2009), cultural keystone species are essential to maintaining the
complexity of social–ecological systems. The cultural keystone
species concept provides a framework for assessing the impacts of
environmental change on a particular group of people and their
way of life (Garibaldi and Turner 2004). As such, it is a useful tool
for ecological conservation and restoration.
Forest managers understand the economic and environmental
importance of trees, but they seldom grasp their cultural and
symbolic significance and the traditions that surround them
(Schroeder 1992;McDonough 2003). However, in recent years,
evolving forest management policies have moved to incorporate
social and aboriginal values (UN 2007;Trosper and Parrotta 2012).
There is indeed a pervasive public support for new approaches of
sustainable forest management that significantly involve public
input and meaningfully manage forests for multiple values
(Robinson and Hawley 1997). In this context, managing forests
Received 17 December 2012. Accepted 24 March 2013.
Y. Uprety and H. Asselin. Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Forestry, NSERC-UQAT-UQAM Industrial Chair in Sustainable Forest Management, Université du Québec en Abitibi-
Témiscamingue, 445 boulevard de l'Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC J9X 5E4, Canada.
Y. Bergeron. NSERC-UQAT-UQAM Industrial Chair in Sustainable Forest Management, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 445 boulevard de l'Université, Rouyn-Noranda,
QC J9X 5E4, Canada.
Corresponding author: Yadav Uprety (e-mail:
Can. J. For. Res. 43: 544–551 (2013) Published at on 26 March 2013.
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
only for timber is no longer acceptable, especially in landscapes
occupied and used by aboriginal peoples. This raises the crucial
issue of how the interests and knowledge of all people can be
incorporated into forest management (Cheveau et al. 2008;
Trosper and Parrotta 2012).
Although aboriginal worldviews generally give equal impor-
tance to all species (Turner 2005), particular species can be more
prominent in certain circumstances. For example, the Kitcisakik
Algonquin community of western Quebec is concerned by the
reduced abundance of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) on its
ancestral territory. White pine has indeed been overharvested
over the last few centuries in northeastern North America and its
abundance has severely decreased (Liu 1990;Delwaide and Filion
1999;Thompson et al. 2006;Barrette and Bélanger 2007), includ-
ing in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region (Asselin 1995), where the
ancestral territory of the Kitcisakik Algonquin people is located.
Extensive logging to meet timber demand eliminated white pine
seed sources and allowed early successional hardwood species to
replace white pine forests (Weyenberg et al. 2004). The Kitcisakik
Algonquin are calling for restoration and sustainable manage-
ment of white pine on their ancestral territory. However, white
pine management is challenging because of specific site require-
ments, slow initial growth rate, susceptibility to damage from
white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola J. C. Fisch.) and white
pine weevil (Pissodes strobi Peck.), and heavy browsing (White et al.
2002;Major et al. 2009).
Before culturally adapted white pine restoration and manage-
ment scenarios can be elaborated for the Kitcisakik territory, it is
crucial to document why and how the species is important to the
community. Furthermore, aboriginal people possess considerable
traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) that can inform scientific
approaches to adaptive management (Berkes 2008). Hence, this
study sought to document the cultural, spiritual, and ecological
importance of white pine to the Kitcisakik Algonquin commu-
nity, as well as TEK related to this species.
Study area
The study area is the ~5000 km
territory occupied by the
~430 members of the Kitcisakik Algonquin community. Aborigi-
nal peoples of Canada include First Nation, Metis, and Inuit com-
munities. The Kitcisakik community is part of the Algonquin First
Nation. Its territory is located primarily within the boundaries of
the Réserve Faunique La Vérendrye in western Quebec, less than
300 km north of Ottawa (Ontario), the Canadian capital (Fig. 1).
The average annual temperature in the study area is 1.2–3.3 °C and
the average precipitation is 914–1014 mm/year, with 22%–33%
Fig. 1. Location of Kitcisakik ancestral territory in western Quebec. The inset shows the distribution of white pine in eastern North America
(after Wendel and Smith 1990).
Uprety et al. 545
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
falling as snow (Val-d'Or and Mont-Laurier weather stations,
Environment Canada;
climate_normals). The study area is located in the balsam fir (Abies
balsamea (L.) Mill.) – yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britton) bio-
climatic domain (Saucier et al. 1998). Mixed forest types are dom-
inant, with balsam fir and yellow birch sometimes accompanied
by sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), red maple (Acer rubrum L.),
quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.), paper birch (Betula
papyrifera Marsh.), black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) Britton,
Sterns & Poggenb.), white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss), red
pine (Pinus resinosa Aiton), jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.), and
white pine. Pure white pine stands are rare.
Until the 20th century, the Kitcisakik Algonquins (Algonquins
refer to themselves in their own language as Anicinapek, in plural,
and Anicinape, in singular, which means “true people”) main-
tained a seminomadic lifestyle based on hunting, trapping, fish-
ing, and gathering that was strongly dependent on the forest
(Saint-Arnaud et al. 2009). In the early 1900s, the arrival in the area
of nonaboriginal settlers had important consequences on land use
and occupation, as well as on the social organization of the com-
munity (Leroux et al. 2004). Nevertheless, people from Kitcisakik
still rely massively on subsistence activities, as the welfare rate
reaches 80% in the community (Papatie 2004). Members of the
Kitcisakik community now live on what is considered “crown
land” (under governmental jurisdiction), and they are still strug-
gling for legal recognition of their ancestral territory by the Ca-
nadian government. In the meantime, most of the territory has
been allocated to forestry companies and more than 60% of pro-
ductive forests have been clear-cut over the last 40 years
(Saint-Arnaud et al. 2009). Prior to that, selective logging for large-
diameter hardwoods and pines (white and red) was practiced for
several decades (Asselin 1995).
The intensification of industrial forestry activities on the territory
has engendered feelings of unlawful misappropriation of the land
and has led to frustration, tensions, and conflict (Saint-Arnaud et al.
2009). Since the late 1990s, the community has a Forest Commit-
tee (now called the Aki [Land] Department) that has been man-
dated by the community to protect its interests in the forest
management planning process, to assess the state of the forest, to
identify sites of cultural interest and high conservation value for-
ests, and to develop research priorities (Papatie 2004). Following
decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada, government officials
and forestry companies have the obligation to consult and accom-
modate aboriginal people during forest management planning
(Gouvernement du Québec 2008;Tikina et al. 2010;Government of
Canada 2011). The Aki Department thus participates in consultation,
but as it often occurs late in the planning process, the role of the
community in decision making remains marginal.
Data collection and analysis
The study stemmed from a request from the Kitcisakik Aki De-
partment, thus ensuring its legitimacy and facilitating active par-
ticipation from community members (Asselin and Basile 2012).
The research protocol was approved by the Research Ethics Board
of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT).
Qualitative data were collected through key informant inter-
views. Key informants were selected based on peer selection by
applying chain referral, also called snowball sampling, in which
participants suggest other local holders of knowledge (Gamborg
et al. 2012). A community facilitator appointed by the Aki Depart-
ment helped identify and contact participants. The subject and
the objectives of the study were explained to the participants to
obtain clear and informed consent.
An interview guide was prepared to facilitate semidirective in-
terviews. The guide included 21 questions and was validated by
the Aki Department. It was subdivided into two parts: (i) cultural
and spiritual importance of white pine and (ii) traditional eco-
logical knowledge related to white pine. Not all questions were
always asked or answered, depending on the turn of the conver-
sation and on the knowledge of the respondents. Photographs
were used to make sure that respondents clearly identified white
pine (and could differentiate it from red pine or jack pine). Pho-
tographs were also used to show damages due to blister rust and
weevil. Native names of trees and animals were often used to
facilitate communication, as most respondents were more com-
fortable with Algonquin than French or English names. Inter-
views were conducted in French, with the help of a local
Algonquin–French translator for the three oldest participants.
We interviewed 15 community members (5 women and 10 men)
during May–June 2012, representing 29% of the population
≥45 years old (according to the latest data available from the
Canadian Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Devel-
opment). Informants from older age groups (≥45 years) were se-
lected, since they were expected to have observed the long-term
history of white pine on their territory (Souto and Ticktin 2012). Four
respondents were aged 45– 49 years (all men), three were 50–54 years
(all men), four were 55– 59 years (all women), and four were >65 years
old (including one woman). These individuals included a healer,
hunters, a former timber logger, and members of past and present
Band Councils. Interviews lasted approximately 30 min. They were
scheduled at the convenience of the participants and took place in a
location chosen by them. Interviews were audiorecorded to facilitate
transcription and content analysis whenever the consent was
granted by the respondents.
Content analysis was used to extract the main themes from the
interview transcripts (May 2002). The framework developed by
Garibaldi and Turner (2004) was used to determine if white pine is
a cultural keystone species for the Kitcisakik Algonquin commu-
nity. This framework consists of six different elements that must
be considered when identifying a cultural keystone species
(Table 1). This study was conducted in parallel with another study
that assessed the ecology and reproductive biology of white pine
on the Kitcisakik Algonquin territory (Y. Uprety, H. Asselin, Y.
Bergeron, and M.J. Mazerolle (submitted for publication)). Data
from this study and from a review of the relevant literature on
white pine ecology were compared with the TEK documented in
the present study. The results and interpretations presented in
this paper were discussed with the Kitcisakik Aki Department. The
community facilitator who was present in all interviews ensured
that everyone was properly cited.
Content analysis of the interviews revealed key features of cul-
tural importance and TEK relating to white pine (Table 2). The
following sections elaborate on these perceptions.
Perception of white pine
Since only knowledgeable persons were interviewed, all respondents
were familiar with white pine, referred to locally as Cigwâtik. There was
no specific pattern of knowledge distribution between male and
female respondents. White pine was perceived as a majestic tree
and was considered as the “king” or “chief” (Okima) of the forest
because of the giant trunk size and height (relative to the other
common tree species in the area). Interestingly, respondents were
generally referring to mature or old white pine during the inter-
views, sometimes associating white pine with old-growth forest.
Several respondents said that magnificent landscapes of old-
growth forest with white pine made them feel relaxed and at
peace. Furthermore, they said that wind produces a pleasant, ap-
peasing sound when blowing through pine trees. Tall white pine
trees were also said to be important for providing shade.
The use of tall white pine trees for orientation was reported by
several respondents. White pine trees towering above the canopy
are used as landmarks and can even be used for orientation “at
night, under the moonlight”. The orientation of the branches is
also used as an indicator of wind direction (and thus cardinal
546 Can. J. For. Res. Vol. 43, 2013
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
points), as branches are often longer on the side opposite to
dominant (western) winds. The clear understory of white pine
forests was also said to be important, as it facilitates movements
(especially during portage) and allows hunters to see animals
from afar.
Cultural and spiritual importance
When asked about the cultural and spiritual significance of
white pine trees and forests, all respondents said that their cul-
ture and beliefs were connected to this species. Some respondents
said that white pine was part of traditional stories and myths, thus
highlighting its cultural and spiritual salience. White pine was
considered a sacred tree and was believed to give protection to the
people. An elder said “I talk to him so that he protects me because
it is the largest and tallest tree in our forests”. When asked if it
would be possible to replace the role of this species in their cul-
ture by another native tree species available on the territory, most
of the respondents that answered this question said it would not
be possible.
All respondents said that bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus L.)
nest on the tops of tall white pine trees. Eagles are sacred in the
Algonquin culture, helping people get through grief. One woman
said “they fly away with our problems”. An elder said “The eagle
protects us. When things go well, the eagles are there.”
Medicinal value
Most of the respondents were knowledgeable about the medic-
inal properties of white pine. Even though they were reluctant to
disclose the detailed medicinal recipes, respondents identified
various ailments that were treated using white pine cones, roots,
twigs with needles, and bark: heart diseases, high blood pressure,
tooth problems, muscle pain, wounds, and swellings. Some re-
spondents also said that white pine can be used as a tonic to
strengthen the system.
Two respondents mentioned that white pine was used to pre-
pare remedies after it was struck by lightning. A healer said “when
lightning falls on a white pine, it makes a powder that is used to
treat decayed teeth.” The “yellow roots” collected from mature
white pines were used to treat heart diseases. Twigs and needles of
young white pine trees were boiled and given to the people with
high blood pressure. Bark was also used to treat high blood pres-
sure. Cambium was applied on wounds and swellings. Half of the
respondents said that other medicinal plant species were associ-
ated with old-growth white pine forests, without specifying spe-
cies names.
Food and habitat for wildlife
Respondents were asked to list the wildlife species that they
had observed eating white pine seeds, branches, or bark. This
question had two objectives: determine white-pine-dependent
wildlife and species that are potentially threatening to white pine
by predating seeds or feeding on branches or bark. According to
the respondents, red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus Erxl.) eat
the seeds and porcupines (Erethizon dorsatus L.) eat the bark.
As previously mentioned, eagles preferred big white pine trees
for nesting. Some duck species also nested in woodpecker holes
on large white pine trees. The base of supercanopy white pine
trees also provided denning sites for black bears (Ursus americanus
Pal.). Moose (Alces alces L.) used white pine trees as shelter in winter
Table 1. White pine rating for the six elements used to identify cultural keystone species (Garibaldi and Turner 2004): 5 = “yes, very high”; 4 = “yes,
high”; 3 = “yes, moderate”; 2 = “yes, low”; 1 = “yes, although low or infrequent”; and 0 = “no, not used.”
No. Elements that indicate a cultural keystone species Rating
1 Intensity, type, and multiplicity of use
Is the species used intensively (routinely and (or) in large quantities)? 5
Does the species have multiple uses? 5
2 Naming and terminology in the language, including use as seasonal or phenological indicators, names of months
or seasons, place names
Does the language incorporate names and specialized vocabulary relating to the species? 2
3 Role in narratives, ceremonies, or symbolism
Is it prominently featured in narratives and (or) ceremonies, dances, songs, or as a major crest, totem, or symbol? 5
4 Persistence and memory of use in relationship to cultural change
Is the species ubiquitous in the collective cultural consciousness and frequently discussed? 5
5 Level of unique position in culture
Would it be hard to replace this species with another available native species? 5
6 Extent to which it provides opportunities for resource acquisition from beyond the territory
Is this species used as a trade item for other groups? 1
Total 28
Note: The higher the sum total for all questions, the more likely that the species is a cultural keystone species. The highest possible rating is 35. Ratings for each
question are based on the information gathered from the interviews.
Table 2. Key features of cultural importance and traditional ecological knowledge relating to white pine in the Kitcisakik Algonquin community.
No. Key feature
Percentage of
1 Important as a habitat or food source for many species of wildlife, including eagle and moose, which are
important cultural species
2 Many intangible services are obtained from white pine, e.g., it provides shade, acts as a landmark,
protects from lightning strikes, and acts as a water filter
3 Logging is a major factor responsible for the decline of white pine on the ancestral territory 100
4 Mixed plantations could be a good option for white pine restoration and management 80
5 White pine is an important timber species 80
6 White pine is an important traditional medicine 75
7 The cultural and spiritual roles of white pine cannot be replaced by another species of native origin 62
8 Fire used to play an important role in the life cycle of white pine 40
9 Damage due to white pine blister rust and white pine weevil is sometimes seen in open areas but is not
perceived as a serious problem on the territory
Uprety et al. 547
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
and during the rut, in addition to occasionally feeding on young
stems. White pine forests are a major habitat for furbearers such
as marten (Martes americana Tur.), fisher (Martes pennanti Erxl.), and
wolverine (Gulo gulo L.). According to the respondents, these spe-
cies are less abundant than before because there is less white pine
left. One of the respondents said that “if you set a trap beneath a
white pine, it will attract animals into the trap.”
Other services provided by white pine
Children made art craft with needles, cones, and cone scales.
White pine was considered as a good timber species by most of the
respondents, although it was not better than other softwood spe-
cies (Pinus,Picea,Abies,Thuja,orLarix). However, some respondents
mentioned that white pine attracts lightning and that they would
not use it as a construction material. White pine wood was also
used to make furniture. One respondent said that large white pine
trees were used to construct dugout canoes in the past. Old white
pines were also used as fuelwood, but some respondents men-
tioned that it produces black smoke. According to one respon-
dent, white pine cones were used to dye fishing nets and remove
human scent. White pine was said to act as a water filter, provid-
ing potable water.
Threats to white pine
All of the respondents said that logging was the main reason for
white pine decline on the territory. There was a consensus among
the respondents that white pine was less abundant today than in
their childhood because of clear-cut logging, although the decline
had already started back then because of selective logging. They
were concerned that forestry companies might log the remaining
white pines in the near future. According to the respondents,
forests were “more alive” when there were more large white
pines. Although some of the respondents mentioned that squirrel
was a major predator of white pine seeds they did not mention it
as a threat. Two of the respondents also indicated that recent
windfalls (ca. 1992 and 2006) killed several white pines. Lightning
strikes were also said to occasionally kill some big white pine
trees, although forest fires are now very rare on the territory.
When we showed pictures of damage from blister rust and
weevil, none of the respondents cited these as potential reasons
for white pine decline on the territory. Nevertheless, a few respon-
dents were familiar with these problems and they indicated that
they were mostly prevalent along road sides and in pure planta-
tions. Some respondents also noticed that diseases appeared on
residual white pine trees after logging when machinery passed
too close.
Management and restoration
When asked if fire plays a role in white pine's life cycle, some of
the respondents indicated that fire used to play an important role
in white pine ecology but could not elaborate. They nevertheless
said that surface forest fires have been very rare on the territory
for almost a century and no longer provide suitable seedbeds for
natural white pine regeneration.
According to the respondents, there were very little, if any,
white pine restoration efforts on the territory. They were highly
dissatisfied with the fact that forestry companies were more in-
terested in logging than in restoration. They deplored that com-
panies cut white pine and plant jack pine (more valued by local
When asked about the appropriate measures for white pine
restoration, all of the respondents said that mixed plantations
would be necessary. However, opinions varied about the other
species that should be planted along with white pine. The most
cited species were white spruce (4 times), balsam fir (3 times), and
birch (2 times). Three respondents suggested that plantation
along with balsam fir might not be a good option, as there is a
legend saying that white pine and balsam fir are enemies. Some of
the respondents noticed that white pine was in competition with
hardwoods, mostly with quaking aspen and paper birch. One of
the respondents suggested pure white pine plantations, not very
dense, and control of hardwood species.
Two of the women respondents were worried about the medic-
inal efficacy of planted white pine. They said they never tried to
use planted white pines for medicinal purposes. A healer said “I
dig into the earth at the foot of mature white pines and pick up
the yellow roots to treat heart diseases. Would there still be yellow
roots if trees are planted rather than naturally grown? I don't
know.” Another respondent said that “cedars [Thuja occidentalis L.]
planted in cities do not work as medicinal plants.”
Respondents were not familiar with the optimal growth condi-
tions for white pine. They said that it would be wise to plant white
pine where it used to grow. They mentioned that restoration
should take place all over the territory (in every family hunting
ground where it used to be present) and at higher densities near
The social and ecological significance of forests and trees is
relatively less studied for aboriginal peoples of Canada than for
other cultural groups, e.g., indigenous people of the Amazon
(Berkes and Davidson-Hunt 2006). We have documented the cul-
tural and spiritual importance and the traditional ecological
knowledge of white pine in the Kitcisakik Algonquin community.
Some of the respondents were reluctant to share information
about medicinal uses of white pine. This reluctance could possibly
be explained by the respondents wanting to keep cultural and
spiritual aspects confidential or having concerns about the re-
spect of intellectual property rights (Karjala et al. 2002), especially
as legal protection is insufficient in Canada (Uprety et al. 2012a).
There is evidence that traditional knowledge has been used by
scientists in the past with no consideration for, or validation
from, aboriginal people (Berkes 2008). Nevertheless, respondents
were generally open to discuss other topics and there was very
strong coherence between interviews. This, combined with the
fact that many widely varied topics were covered, provides suffi-
cient material to use the keystone species framework (Garibaldi
and Turner 2004).
White pine as a cultural keystone species
White pine is culturally, spiritually, and ecologically very im-
portant to the Kitcisakik Algonquin people. They expressed
strong feelings of attachment and spiritual connection to white
pine trees and forests. The oldest white pine trees can live up to
450 years and grow as tall as 70 m (Anonymous 1993). The tops of
the largest trees float in the air, far above their smaller neighbors
(Schroeder 1992). This characteristic makes white pine a unique
species of northeastern North American forest landscapes and
justifies why it is used as a landmark by people from Kitcisakik.
People from the Scandinavian boreal forest also use tall trees as
landmarks (Östlund et al. 2002). The reason why respondents were
mostly referring to mature or old white pine might be because
supercanopy trees are more conspicuous. This also suggests that
scattered white pines were remnants of former more extensive
pine stands (Stearns 1992). Furthermore, forest inventory data
from the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources show that younger
age classes (regeneration, 30 and 50 years) are under-represented
in the study area.
White pine provides many ecosystem services to the people of
Kitcisakik (Table 2). It is also important for wildlife, providing
food and shelter, notably to flagship species such as bald eagle and
moose. Some of the medicinal uses of white pine documented in
our study are unique and different, and some are comparable to
the uses by other aboriginal groups of the Canadian boreal forest
(Uprety et al. 2012a). While the use of white pine bark (cambium)
to treat wounds and swellings was already documented, the uses
548 Can. J. For. Res. Vol. 43, 2013
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
of white pine against heart diseases, tooth problems, and to
strengthen the system are new from the present study. Other
reported uses of white pine by North American aboriginal people
include use of pitch on boils by the Delawares and use of a needle
infusion on cuts, bruises, sores, and scabs by the Iroquois
(Arnason et al. 1981).
For the Kitcisakik Algonquin, white pine is the “king” of trees,
offering protection. People often go into white pine forests for
resourcing. White pine also possesses important symbolic and
spiritual value to other aboriginal cultures, e.g., the Menominee
(Wood and Dewhurst 1998) and Iroquois (Schroeder 1992) people
of the northeastern USA. In other cultures, other tree species are
regarded as living beings equivalent in status to humans (Turner
et al. 2009). Cedar (Thuja) is known as the “tree of life” by the
northwest coastal peoples of British Columbia (Stryd and
Feddema 1998). In other areas, birch (Betula) is the “tree of health,
wisdom, and safety”, cedars are the “trees of paradise”, and ash
(Fraxinus) is the “tree of rebirth” and is planted as protection
against evil creatures (Coder 1996).
The more widely or intensively a plant is used, the greater its
cultural significance (Turner 1988). However, cultural significance
varies in quality, intensity, and exclusivity, and this must be con-
sidered in any effort to evaluate or measure the importance of a
plant (Turner 1988). Although criticisms have been raised about
the framework developed by Garibaldi and Turner (2004) (see
Platten and Henfrey 2009), it provides a good way of assessing
both the tangible and intangible values of a species (Kanowski and
Williams 2009). Platten and Henfrey (2009) emphasized that a
cultural keystone should be understood as a “complex” involving
several material and nonmaterial system elements, rather than a
“single biological species”. Following Bohensky and Maru (2011),
we used the framework developed by Garibaldi and Turner (2004)
as a tool to provide social context to link indigenous and scientific
knowledge for management and restoration. Therefore, using
this framework, white pine can be designated as a cultural key-
stone species for the Kitcisakik Algonquin community (Table 1). It
has high spiritual and medicinal value and is featured in many
narratives. The high cultural significance of the species is also
reflected by the fact that, according to most of the respondents,
this species cannot be replaced by another native tree species
available on the territory. This could explain why the community
is calling for restoration of the species on its territory. Even if
information was lacking about the existence of specialized vocab-
ulary relating to white pine or opportunities to trade white pine
products with other indigenous groups (criteria 2 and 6 of
Garibaldi and Turner (2004);Table 1), the total ranking for white
pine (28/35) was comparable to that of species identified as cul-
tural keystones in Garibaldi and Turner (2004).
Comparing traditional knowledge and ecological studies
All of the ecological information gathered from the interviews
corresponds to scientific findings (Table 3), illustrating that tradi-
tional knowledge and science could be used in complementarity
(Moller et al. 2004;Rist et al. 2010;Uprety et al. 2012b). The role of
fire in white pine ecology was recognized by the respondents.
However, this knowledge was uncertain as there have been no
large forest fires on the territory since the 1920s (Lesieur et al.
2004;Grenier et al. 2005) and respondents have thus never wit-
Table 3. Correspondence of traditional ecological knowledge with scientific studies concerning white pine.
Characteristic Traditional ecological knowledge Scientific ecological knowledge
Damage due to blister
rust or weevil
Sometimes seen on the territory, but mostly in open
areas such as plantations or road sides. Not
perceived as a major threat on the territory.
Prevalent on the territory, mostly in open areas such as
plantations and along road sides (Uprety et al.
(submitted for publication)).
Role of fire Fire used to play an important role in white pine
Fire is an important agent for white pine distribution,
ecology, and reproductive biology (Frelich 1992).
Potential areas for
Restoration plantations should be established in
areas where white pine used to be present.
Restoration efforts should focus on sites where the target
species was present (Uprety et al. 2012b).
Best restoration strategy Mixed plantations (with various companion species). Mixed plantations with Norway spruce (Coulombe et al.
Understory vegetation Absence of understory vegetation (makes it easier to
walk when chasing game).
Understory plants are usually sparse in white pine forests
(Wendel and Smith 1990).
Aesthetic value White pine trees are landmarks, they are part of
magnificent landscapes, and white pine stands are
good places for resourcing.
Many tourists and outdoor enthusiasts prefer forests
containing white pine, particularly those with large old
trees (MNR 2008).
Nesting habitat for eagles Eagles prefer tall white pine trees for nesting. Some older supercanopy trees are favoured by bald
eagles for nesting (Rogers and Lindquist 1992).
Importance for other
wildlife species
Porcupine, squirrel, moose, bear, fisher, and
woodpecker are associated with white pine.
Inner bark is a favorite winter food of porcupines (Rogers
and Lindquist 1992). Squirrel, moose, and fisher are
dependent on white pine for food and shelter (Quinby
1989;Naylor 1994).
Impact of logging Extensive logging is a major factor responsible for
white pine decline on the territory.
Logging is reported as one of the major factors
responsible for white pine decline throughout its
distribution range (Carleton et al. 1996;Weyenberg
et al. 2004).
Impact of windfall Major windfall events contributed to reduce white
pine abundance on the territory.
Severe windstorms gradually reduce the pine component
and advance succession towards hardwoods (Frelich
Competition from other
Hardwood species such as trembling aspen and
paper birch, and conifer species such as balsam fir
outgrow white pine and increase understory
shade above critical level.
Competition from fast-growing species, especially in
productive sites, is a major problem (Wendel and Smith
1990;Ostry et al. 2010). A significant negative effect of
balsam fir basal area was found on white pine
regeneration abundance (Y. Uprety, H. Asselin, Y.
Bergeron, and M.J. Mazerolle (submitted for publication)).
Lightning strikes White pine receives lightning strikes and saves
houses and people.
Tall trees attract lightning strikes (Ruffner and Abrams
Uprety et al. 549
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
nessed the impact of fire on white pine. Relatively frequent, low-
intensity surface fires coupled with infrequent, high-intensity
stand-replacing fires favor the establishment of white pine
(Frelich 1992). Increased fire activity gives a competitive advan-
tage to white pine over other fire susceptible species (Bergeron
et al. 1997). Such fire regimes maintain and regenerate white
pine by preparing seedbeds and eliminating competition. Log-
ging has now replaced fire as the major agent of disturbance on
the Kitcisakik territory (Lesieur et al. 2004).
The tops of tall white pine trees were referred to as preferred
nesting habitat for eagles, and the bases of those supercanopy
trees were used as denning sites for bears. Studies have shown
that white pine is indeed a preferred tree for eagles and bears
(Rogers and Lindquist 1992;MNR 2008). The irregular crowns of
supercanopy white pines enable birds with large wingspans to
land and nest (Rogers and Lindquist 1992). Particular assemblages
of bird species were also found to be associated with supercanopy
pine trees (Kirk et al. 2012). In Ontario, white pine snags were
preferred by woodpeckers for feeding and nesting, and the larger,
more decayed snags were preferred (Quinby 1989). These wood-
pecker holes are also used by secondary users such as wood duck
(DeGraaf and Shigo 1985). About 80% of the forest-dwelling wild-
life found in central Ontario used forest associations containing
red or white pine (Naylor 1994).
Importance of cultural values and traditional ecological
knowledge recognition
In recent years a step has been taken to include social and
cultural values in forest management (IUFRO 2007). Equally im-
portant is to incorporate traditional forest-related knowledge that
can assist in interpreting and responding to feedback from the
environment and to guide resource management (Berkes et al.
2000;Turner et al. 2000;Trosper and Parrotta 2012). Recognizing
these two important aspects can better promote cultural diver-
sity, meet peoples' aspirations, and encourage their participation
in forest management.
Turner et al. (2008) explored a range of “invisible losses” in
aboriginal contexts that are not widely recognized or accounted
for in decisions about resource planning and decision making:
cultural and (or) lifestyle losses, loss of identity, health losses, loss
of self-determination and influence, emotional and psychological
losses, loss of order in the world, knowledge losses, and indirect
economic losses and lost opportunities. White pine is an insepa-
rable cultural entity of the Kitcisakik aboriginal people and most
of these “invisible losses” are likely to happen in the near future if
the white pine decline continues.
The intrinsic ecological worth and cultural and spiritual signif-
icance (Trigger and Mulcock 2005) of white pine as perceived by
the Kitcisakik Algonquin community should be respected in for-
est management. As Brynaert (1985) suggested, the forestry indus-
try must recognize that exercising its rights to utilize timber
resources embodies a responsibility not to degrade or infringe
upon the legitimate interests of other resource users. Consider-
able effort will be required to reach a high level of participation of
local communities and efficient incorporation of TEK (Cheveau
et al. 2008;Saint-Arnaud et al. 2009). This study, by documenting
the cultural importance of white pine to the Kitcisakik Algonquin
people, will hopefully help design culturally adapted restoration
and management strategies.
We are grateful to the members of the Kitcisakik community
for their participation in the study and for sharing their valuable
knowledge. We thank Monique Pâquet, Charlie Papatie, and
Martine Carrier for their help in conducting the interviews.
Thanks to Mélanie Desrochers (Centre for Forest Research, Uni-
versité du Québec a
`Montréal) for helping with the Fig. 1 design.
We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive
comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The study was
supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council
of Canada (SSHRC). Scholarships provided to Y.U. by the Aborigi-
nal Peoples Research and Knowledge Network (DIALOG), Centre
for Forest Research (CEF), Centre de recherche sur la gouvernance
des ressources naturelles et du territoire (CRGRNT), Chaire Des-
jardins en développement des petites collectivités, and Associa-
tion québécoise de gestion de la végétation (AQGV) are highly
Anonymous. 1993. Flora of North America. Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, New
Arnason, T., Hebda, R.J., and Johns, T. 1981. Use of plants for food and medicine
by Native Peoples of eastern Canada. Can. J. Bot. 59(11): 2189–2325. doi:10.
Asselin, M. 1995. L'Abitibi-Témiscamingue : trois sous-régions, une région. In
Histoire de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Edited by O. Vincent. Institut québécois
de recherche sur la culture. pp. 21–65.
Asselin, H., and Basile, S. 2012. Éthique de la recherche avec les Peuples autoch-
tones : Qu'en pensent les principaux intéressés? Éthique publique, 14(1):
Barrette, M., and Bélanger, L. 2007. Reconstitution historique du paysage préin-
dustriel de la région écologique des hautes collines du Bas-Saint-Maurice.
Can. J. For. Res. 37(7): 1147–1160. doi:10.1139/X06-306.
Bergeron, Y., Leduc, A., and Li, T. 1997. Explaining the distribution of Pinus spp.
in a Canadian boreal insular landscape. J. Veg. Sci. 8: 37–44. doi:10.2307/
Berkes, F. 2008. Sacred ecology. Taylor and Francis, Philadelphia.
Berkes, F., and Davidson-Hunt, I.J. 2006. Biodiversity, traditional management
systems, and cultural landscapes: examples from the boreal forest of Canada.
Int. Soc. Sci. J. 58(187): 35–47. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2451.2006.00605.x.
Berkes, F., Colding, J., and Folke, C. 2000. Rediscovery of traditional ecological
knowledge as adaptive management. Ecol. Appl. 10(5): 1251–1262. doi:10.1890/
Bohensky, E.L., and Maru, Y. 2011. Indigenous knowledge, science, and resil-
ience: What have we learned from a decade of international literature on
“integration”? Ecol. Soc. 16(4): 6. doi:10.5751/ES-04342-160406.
Brynaert, K.A. 1985. Recreational and cultural use of the forest. For. Chron. 61(2):
166–167. doi:10.5558/tfc61166-2.
Carleton, T.J., Maycock, P.F., Arnup, R., and Gordon, A.M. 1996. In situ regener-
ation of Pinus strobus and P. resinosa in the Great Lakes forest communities of
Canada. J. Veg. Sci. 7: 431–444. doi:10.2307/3236287.
Cheveau, M., Imbeau, L., Drapeau, P., and Bélanger, L. 2008. Current status and
future directions of traditional ecological knowledge in forest management:
A review. For. Chron. 84(2): 231–243. doi:10.5558/tfc84231-2.
Coder, K.D. 1996. Cultural aspects of trees: traditions and myths. Cooperative
Extension Service, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
Coulombe, C., Bélanger, G., Lavallée, R., and Laflamme, G. 2004. A simple effec-
tive tool for controlling white pine weevil and blister rust on Norway spruce
and eastern white pine. Natural Resources Canada, Quebec.
DeGraaf, R.M., and Shigo, A.L. 1985. Managing cavity trees for wildlife in the
northeast. USDA For. Serv.
Delwaide, A., and Filion, L. 1999. Dendrosérie du pin blanc (Pinus strobus L.) et de
la pruche de l'est (Tsuga canadensis L. [Carr.]) dans la région de Québec. Géog-
raphie physique et Quaternaire, 53: 265–275. doi:10.7202/004853ar.
Dudley, N., Higgins-Zogib, L., and Mansourian, S. 2005. Beyond belief: linking
faiths and protected areas to support biodiversity conservation. WWF Inter-
national, Switzerland.
Frelich, L.E. 1992. The relationship of natural disturbances in white pine stand
development. In White Pine Symposium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Pol-
icy and Management, 16–18 September 1992. Edited by R.A. Stine and
M.J. Baughman. Department of Forestry Resources, University of Minnesota,
St. Paul. pp. 27–37.
Gamborg, C., Parsons, R., Puri, R.K., and Sandøe, P. 2012. Ethics and research
methodologies for the study of traditional forest-related knowledge. In Tra-
ditional forest-related knowledge: sustaining communities, ecosystems and
biocultural diversity. Edited by J.A. Parrotta and R.L. Trosper. World Forest XII,
IUFRO, The Christensen Fund, and Springer. pp. 535–562.
Garibaldi, A., and Turner, N. 2004. Cultural keystone species: implications for
ecological conservation and restoration. Ecol. Soc. 9(3): 1.
Gouvernement du Québec, 2008. Guide intérimaire en matière de consultation
des communautés autochtones. Groupe interministériel de soutien sur la
consultation des Autochtones.
Government of Canada, 2011. Aboriginal consultation and accommodation. Up-
dated guidelines for federal officials to fulfill the duty to consult. Department
of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Grenier, D.J., Bergeron, Y., Kneeshaw, D., and Gauthier, S. 2005. Fire frequency
for the transitional mixedwood forest of Timiskaming, Quebec, Canada. Can.
J. For. Res. 35(3): 656–666. doi:10.1139/x05-005.
550 Can. J. For. Res. Vol. 43, 2013
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). 2007. The role of
culture in sustaining today's forests. IUFRO, Fact Sheet. Available from [accessed 26 June 2012].
Kanowski, P.J., and Williams, K.J.H. 2009. The reality of imagination: integrating
the material and cultural values of old forests. For. Ecol. Manage. 258: 341–
346. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2009.01.011.
Karjala, M.K., Sherry, E.E., and Dewhurst, S.M. 2002. Criteria and indicators for
sustainable forest planning: a framework for recording aboriginal resource
and social values. For. Pol. Econ. 6: 95–110. doi:10.1016/S1389-9341(02)00117-X.
Kirk, D.A., Welsh, D.A., Baker, J.A., Thompson, I.D., and Csizy, M. 2012. Avian
assemblages differ between old-growth and mature white pine forests of
Ontario, Canada: A role for supercanopy trees? Av. Conserv. Ecol. 7(1): 4.
Leroux, J., Chamberland, R., Brazeau, E., and Dubé, C. 2004. Au pays des peaux de
chagrin : Occupation et exploitation territoriale a
`Kitcisakik (Grand lac Vic-
toria) au XX
siècle. Presses de l'Université Laval, Quebéc.
Lesieur, D., Lefort, P., Bergeron, Y., and Lauzon, È. 2004. Reconstitution de
l'historique des perturbations naturelles et de la composition de la forêt
pré-industrielle au sud de Val-d'Or. Rapport de la Chaire industrielle en amé-
nagement forestier durable soumis a
Liu, K.-B. 1990. Holocene paleoecology of the boreal forest and Great Lakes–St.
Lawrence forests in northern Ontario. Ecol. Monogr. 60: 179–212. doi:10.2307/
Major, J.E., Mosseler, A., Barsi, D.C., Clouthier, A., and Campbell, M. 2009.
Impact of three silvicultural treatments on weevil incidence, growth, phe-
nology, and branch level dynamics of Pinus strobus from large and small
populations. Can. J. For. Res. 39(1): 12–25. doi:10.1139/X08-153.
May, T. (Editor). 2002. Qualitative research in action. Sage Publications Inc.,
Thousand Oaks, California.
McDonough, M.H. 2003. Understanding the meaning and value of forests and
trees. In Understanding community–forest relations. Edited by L.E. Kruger.
USDA For. Serv., Pacific Northwest Res. Stat., Portland. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-
GTR-566. pp. 145–162.
Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). 2008. State of the resource reporting.
Regional report: White pine in the lake Abitibi and lake Temagami ecore-
gions of Ontario. Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario.
Moller, H., Berkes, F., Lyver, B.O., and Kislalioglu, M. 2004. Combining science
and traditional ecological knowledge: monitoring populations for co-
management. Ecol. Soc. 9(3): 2.
Naylor, B.J. 1994. Managing wildlife habitat in red pine and white pine forests of
central Ontario. For. Chron. 70(4): 411–419.
Östlund, L., Zackrisson, O., and Hornberg, G. 2002. Trees on the border between
nature and culture. Environ. Hist. 7: 48–68. doi:10.2307/3985452.
Ostry, M.E., Laflamme, G., and Katovich, S.A. 2010. Silvicultural approaches for
management of eastern white pine to minimize impacts of damaging agents.
Forest Pathol. 40: 332–340. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0329.2010.00661.x.
Papatie, J. 2004. Vécu et réflexion de la communauté Anicinapek de Kitcisakik
avec le régime forestier des Québécois. Brief submitted to the Commission
for the study of public forest management in Québec.
Platten, S., and Henfrey, T. 2009. The cultural keystone concept: insights from
ecological anthropology. Hum. Ecol. 37: 491–500. doi:10.1007/s10745-009-
Quinby, P.A. 1989. Old growth forest survey in Temagami's Wakimika Triangle.
Tall Pines Project Res. Rep. No. 2. Temagami Wilderness Society, Toronto.
Ramakrishnan, P.S. 2007. Traditional forest knowledge and sustainable forestry:
a north-east India perspective. For. Ecol. Manage. 249: 91–99. doi:10.1016/j.
Rist, L., Shaankar, R.U., Milner-Gulland, E.J., and Ghazoul, J. 2010. The use of
traditional ecological knowledge in forest management: an example from
India. Ecol. Soc. 15(1): 3.
Robinson, D.W., and Hawley, W.L. 1997. Social indicators and management im-
plications derived from the Canadian Forest Survey '96. McGregor Model
Forest Association, British Columbia.
Rogers, L.L., and Lindquist, E.L. 1992. Supercanopy white pine and wildlife. In
White Pine Symposium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Policy and Manage-
ment, 16–18 September 1992. Edited by R.A. Stine and M.J. Baughman. Depart-
ment of Forestry Resources, University of Minnesota, St. Paul. pp. 39–43.
Ruffner, C.M., and Abrams, M.D. 1998. Lightning strikes and resultant fires from
archival (1912–1917) and current (1960–1997) information in Pennsylvania.
J. Tor. Bot. Soc. 125(3): 249–252. doi:10.2307/2997223.
Saint-Arnaud, M., Asselin, H., Dubé, C., Croteau, Y., and Papatie, C. 2009. Devel-
oping criteria and indicators for aboriginal forestry: mutual learning
through collaborative research. In Changing the culture of forestry in
Canada: building effective institutions for aboriginal engagement in sustain-
able forest management. Edited by M.G. Stevenson and D.C. Natcher. Cana-
dian Circumpolar Institute Press, Edmonton. pp. 85–105.
Saucier, J.-P., Bergeron, J.-P., Grondin, P., and Robitaille, A. 1998. Les régions
écologiques du Québec méridional (troisième version). L'Aubelle, 124: S1–S12.
Schroeder, H.W. 1992. The tree of peace: symbolic and spiritual values of the white
pine. In White Pine Symposium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Policy and Man-
agement, 16–18 September 1992. Edited by R.A. Stine and M.J. Baughman. Depart-
ment of Forestry Resources, University of Minnesota, St. Paul. pp. 73–83.
Souto, T., and Ticktin, T. 2012. Understanding interrelationships among predic-
tors (age, gender, and origin) of local ecological knowledge. Econ. Bot. 66(2):
149–164. doi:10.1007/s12231-012-9194-3.
Stearns, F. 1992. Ecological characteristics of white pine. In White Pine Sympo-
sium Proceedings: History, Ecology, Policy and Management, 16–18 Septem-
ber 1992. Edited by R.A. Stine and M.J. Baughman. Department of Forestry
Resources, University of Minnesota, St. Paul. pp. 10–18.
Stryd, A.H., and Feddema, V. 1998. Sacred cedar: The cultural and archaeological
significance of culturally modified trees. A report of the Pacific Salmon Forest
Project. David Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver.
Thompson, I.D., Simard, J.H., and Titman, R.D. 2006. Historical changes in white
pine (Pinus strobus L.) density in Algonquin Park, Ontario, during the 19th
century. Nat. Area. J. 26(1): 61–71. doi:10.3375/0885-8608(2006)26[61:HCIWPP]2.
Tikina, A.V., Innes, J.L., Trosper, R.L., and Larson, B.C. 2010. Aboriginal peoples and
forest certification: a review of the Canadian situation. Ecol. Soc. 15(3): 33.
Trigger, D., and Mulcock, J. 2005. Forests as spiritually significant places: nature,
culture and ‘belonging’ in Australia. Aust. J. Anthropol. 16(3): 306–320. doi:
Trosper, R.L., and Parrotta, J.A. (Editors). 2012. Traditional forest-related
knowledge: sustaining communities, ecosystems and biocultural diversity.
World Forest XII, IUFRO, The Christensen Fund, and Springer.
Turner, N.J. 1988. “The importance of a rose”: evaluating the cultural signifi-
cance of plants in Thompson and Lillooet Interior Salish. Am. Anthropol. 90:
272–290. doi:10.1525/aa.1988.90.2.02a00020.
Turner, N.J. 2005. The earth's blanket: traditional teachings for sustainable liv-
ing. Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver.
Turner, N.J., Ignace, M.B., and Ignace, R. 2000. Traditional ecological knowledge
and wisdom of aboriginal people in British Columbia. Ecol. Appl. 10(5): 1275–
1287. doi:10.1890/1051-0761(2000)010[1275:TEKAWO]2.0.CO;2.
Turner, N.J., Gregory, R., Brooks, C., Failing, L., and Satterfield, T. 2008. From
invisibility to transparency: identifying the implications. Ecol. Soc. 13(2): 7.
Turner, N.J., Ari, Y., Berkes, F., Davidson-Hunt, I., Ertug, Z.F., and Miller, A. 2009.
Cultural management of living trees: an international perspectives. J. Ethno-
biol. 29(2): 237–270. doi:10.2993/0278-0771-29.2.237.
United Nations (UN). 2007. United Nations declaration on the rights of indige-
nous peoples. Available from
declaration.html [accessed 14 July 2012].
Uprety, Y., Asselin, H., Dhakal, A., and Julien, N. 2012a. Traditional use of medic-
inal plants by aboriginal people of boreal Canada: review and perspectives.
J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomed. 8: 7. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-8-7.
Uprety, Y., Asselin, H., Bergeron, Y., Doyon, F., and Boucher, J.-F. 2012b. Contri-
bution of traditional knowledge to ecological restoration: practices and ap-
plications. Ecoscience, 19(3): 225–237. doi:10.2980/19-3-3530.
Wendel, G.W., and Smith, H.C. 1990. Pinus strobus L., eastern white pine. In Silvics
of North America. Vol. 1, Conifers. Edited by R.M. Burns and B.H. Honkala.
USDA, Washington, D.C. pp. 467–488.
Weyenberg, S.A., Frelich, L.E., and Reich, P.B. 2004. Logging versus fire: How
does disturbance type influence the abundance of Pinus strobus regeneration?
Silva Fenn. 38(2): 179–194.
White, M.A., Brown, T.N., and Host, G.E. 2002. Landscape analysis of risk factors
for white pine blister rust in the Mixed Forest Province of Minnesota, U.S.A.
Can. J. For. Res. 32(9): 1639–1650. doi:10.1139/x02-078.
Wood, D.B., and Dewhurst, S.M. 1998. A decision support system for the
Menominee legacy forest. J. For. 95: 28–32.
Young, E. 1999. Reconciliation or exclusion? Integrating indigenous and non-
indigenous land management concepts for Australia's Native Title era. Asia
Pac. Viewpoint, 40(2): 159–171. doi:10.1111/1467-8373.00089.
Uprety et al. 551
Published by NRC Research Press
Can. J. For. Res. Downloaded from by Universite du QuÈbec Abitibi-Temiscaminque on 05/29/13
For personal use only.
... Forests and forest trees often play a role in the development of human culture and are a prominent part of the cultural heritage of many communities from around the world (Hall et al. 2011, Yadav et al. 2013, Schweiger and Svenning 2020. Apart from provision of goods such as food, medicine, and timber (Burkill et al. 1966, Blicher-Mathiesen 1994, Seibert 1996, Maharani et al. 2016, Le et al. 2017, trees also provide culture-specific artefacts (such as the Tanbou drums of Haiti, Dirksen 2019); impact spiritual beliefs due to their prominence in folklore and mythologies (Furness 1902, Burkill et al. 1966, Yadav et al. 2013, Maid et al. 2014; and serve as a link between multiple generations of people, thus influencing individual, family, and community identities (Koppell 1990). ...
... Forests and forest trees often play a role in the development of human culture and are a prominent part of the cultural heritage of many communities from around the world (Hall et al. 2011, Yadav et al. 2013, Schweiger and Svenning 2020. Apart from provision of goods such as food, medicine, and timber (Burkill et al. 1966, Blicher-Mathiesen 1994, Seibert 1996, Maharani et al. 2016, Le et al. 2017, trees also provide culture-specific artefacts (such as the Tanbou drums of Haiti, Dirksen 2019); impact spiritual beliefs due to their prominence in folklore and mythologies (Furness 1902, Burkill et al. 1966, Yadav et al. 2013, Maid et al. 2014; and serve as a link between multiple generations of people, thus influencing individual, family, and community identities (Koppell 1990). Despite increased awareness that threats to tree populations are escalating from the combined effects of ecosystem degradation and climate change (Edwards et al. 2019, Gomes et al. 2019, we are currently limited in our understanding of how climatic stress may influence populations of culturally important tree species. ...
... Such irreplaceability generally indicates an extremely high social value where a custom may be lost if the plant species is lost (Freitas et al. 2020). Such trees can have important applications for conservation and ecological initiatives (Garibaldi and Turner 2004), as they can be explicitly included in management plans or reforestation efforts where both the welfare of nature and human societies is prioritized (Yadav et al. 2013). With the escalation in climate change, questions arise on how this may threaten not only biodiversity and ecological processes but also the potential of hyper diverse tropical forests to support human-nature interactions. ...
Full-text available
Humans have interacted with trees for millennia and the strength of such interactions determines the long-term social values of trees and forests. Such ecocultural linkages could be important to promote during reforestation efforts, potentially helping to turn the tide on the current rapid extinction of cultural and biological diversity. In addition, predicting the fate of ecoculturally important species to changing climates may help guide tree species selection best-suited to future climates. We assessed the vulnerability of four ecoculturally important tree species native to Southeast Asia to an extreme drought: Koompassia excelsa, Nephelium lappaceum, Shorea fallax and Shorea leprosula. These species provide distinct and unique products, and Koompassia excelsa is well-represented in local mythological stories and considered a Cultural Keystone Species (CKS). We used two complementary approaches: 1) an experimental common garden and 2) naturally occurring wild trees growing in a secondary forest. We compared the performance of trees before, after, and during the 2016 El Niño event with record breaking low precipitation and high temperatures. We found that mortality of the CKS K. excelsa in the common garden, along with mortality and growth of wild trees were unaffected by the El Niño drought. In contrast, young trees of N. lappaceum and S. fallax planted in the common garden had mortality 4 and 3 times higher, respectively, during the El Niño drought compared to normal years. Growth rate of S. fallax in the wild was also significantly lower during the El Niño drought and this effect was particularly pronounced in highly disturbed forests. Our results demonstrate that the impact of extreme climatic events, that are predicted to become more common with climate change, on culturally important tree species is species specific. Management of such species may thus need species specific measures to maintain viable populations and hence provide the basic physical settings for human-nature interactions and associated cultural identities to persist. In this context, our findings that cultural keystone species such as K. excelsa could be drought tolerant is noteworthy, as investing on such species could prove to be beneficial for both local cultures and conservation of native ecosystems and biodiversity.
... This was always the case with respect to participant consensus (PC), which was often used (5 papers, 28%) in conjunction with cultural importance indices or was a component of a given index [25,26,30,39,48]. Most authors (61%, 11 papers) cited the use of the index of cultural significance (ICI) to infer cultural keystone status [2,25,30,32,33,[49][50][51][52][53]. The use-value index (UV) was used for keystone designation in 22% (4 papers) of studies that tested the cultural keystone theory [26,32,49,54]. ...
... For example, Garibaldi and Turner [2] were the first to propose a standardized methodology for predicting keystone status through the use of the index of cultural significance. This index including subsequent versions were the most widely used approach to determine if a given species qualifies for keystone designation ( [25,30,32,33,[49][50][51][52][53]; see also Fig. 3). Although these approaches have yielded interesting results, a significant limitation of Garibaldi and Turner's [2] index is the potential for incorporating researcher biases in terms of directly assigning value or scores to the predictors of keystone designation (see [68,71,73]). ...
Full-text available
The cultural keystone species theory predicts plant species that are culturally important, play a role in resource acquisition, fulfil a psycho-socio-cultural function within a given culture, have high use-value, have an associated naming and terminology in a native language, and a high level of species irreplaceability qualify for cultural keystone species designation. This theory was proposed as a framework for understanding relationships between human societies and species that are integral to their culture. A greater understanding of the dynamic roles of cultural keystones in both ecosystem processes and cultural societies is a foundation for facilitating biocultural conservation. Given such important direct conservation implications of the cultural keystone species theory, we reviewed the use of this theoretical framework across the literature to identify new directions for research. Most studies often emphasized the role of cultural keystones species in human societies but failed to provide a robust and reproducible measure of cultural keystone species status or direct test of the predictions of the theory and underemphasized their potential roles in ecosystem processes. To date, no studies that mentioned cultural keystone species tested the predictions of the theory. Only 4.4% provided a measure for cultural keystone status and 47.4% have cited or applied keystone designation to a given species without providing a reproducible measure for cultural keystone species. Studies that provided a measure for cultural keystone species primarily occurred in North America while few of these studies occurred in Australia and Europe with none occurring in Africa. As such, most cultural keystone species have been designated as such qualitatively based on researcher subjectivity while other studies have designated keystone species with quantitative indices of cultural importance, often incorporating researcher biases or measuring a few of the cultural keystone status predictors rather than all of them, indicating a lack of consensus in identifying cultural keystone species. Thus, we pose the need for a paradigm shift toward the development of serious and systematic approaches for keystone designation.
... Our surveys revealed that the cultural importance of Garcinia species contributed to their conservation in the local regions, which is consistent with the theory that cultural significance could result in the maintenance and development of biodiversity (Gavin et al., 2015;Pungetti et al., 2012). Plant species that play fundamental roles in diet, material production, medicine, and/or spiritual practices can be considered cultural keystone species, contributing to biodiversity conservation and ecological restoration (Garibaldi & Turner, 2004;Uprety et al., 2013). Garcinia paucinervis, the only sacred tree species in Zanzi village, is irreplaceable for maintaining people's stable spirits and cultures, which directly influences people's social life and practice as well as the persistence of community identity; we argue that the species is a cultural keystone species for the Zhuang people in the village. ...
Full-text available
The genus Garcinia L. (Clusiaceae) is gaining increasing scientific attention worldwide owing to its ethnobotanical and pharmacological significance. In China, even though Garcinia plants have long been used for food, ethnomedicine, building materials, and other purposes, a comprehensive ethnobotanical study of the genus is notably limited. In the current study, the ethnobotanical importance of Garcinia plants has been extensively investigated through field surveys and literature reviews. Our studies revealed that Garcinia plants have been used in folk medicine since ancient times in China, including the Northern Song Dynasty, 960-1127 AD. rough their extensive interactions with genus, the Chinese people have gained various traditional knowledge, which is reflected in the following six aspects: food, traditional medicines, ornamental trees, construction and technology, cultural and spiritual significance, and miscellaneous uses. In particular, the four species: Garcinia hanburyi, G. paucinervis, G. xanthochymus, and G. oblongifolia, have cultural or spiritual values, among which G. paucinervis could be considered a cultural keystone species in the local communities, considering its crucial contribution to people's cultures, spirits, and community identity. However, in general, some concerns originating from swi socioeconomic changes have also been identified in the knowledge and Garcinia species. Strategies are needed to conserve traditional botanical knowledge, as well as plants.
... The white pine (Fig. 1, right) is a large evergreen conifer native to North America whose distribution ranges from Canada to the USA. Being the tallest tree in the forest, it is traditionally considered by indigenous communities as a plant of high cultural and spiritual importance, but also as a source of natural remedies for high blood pressure, heart diseases, tooth problems, swellings, muscle pain, and wounds (Uprety et al. 2013). Having been overharvested over the last centuries in North America, white pine abundance has severely decreased and in several regions it is currently considered as rare (Thompson et al. 2006). ...
Full-text available
Strengthening the immune system in order to better withstand the threat of COVID-19 is an important way to ensure the protection of our health against the current pandemic associated with SARS-CoV-2. There are many ways to achieve this, but with current circumstances, certain modalities stand out as being the most valid and are certainly worth greater consideration. Here we review the effects that particular immuno-strengthening activities can have on limiting the severity of COVID-19 disease as well as preventing virus infection. Physical activity, in particular, should not be discounted as an important method of prevention of viral diseases as it triggers many biological processes within the human body which in turn lead to heightened natural defences against viral infections. When exercise is performed in forested areas, these protective health benefits may be increased since many plant species emit biogenic volatile compounds (VOCs) which, when inhaled, have many protective properties. These VOCs have been shown in particular to have immunostimulatory effects on the human body and, thus, they could be of use in the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19. Being amongst trees may also help to alleviate stress and anxiety, lowering cortisol levels and consequently helping the proper functioning of the immune system. In the following work, we have performed an analysis of the available scientific literature which looks at the effects of physical exercise as well as ‘forest-bathing’ on the immune system’s ability to fight disease, especially of course as it relates to COVID-19. Our review aims at shedding light on the benefits of exercising outdoors in green areas and suggests reforestation as a protective measure against future outbreaks.
... The Kitcisakik Algonquin community of western Quebec desires restoration and sustainable management of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) on its ancestral landscape, where it was abundantly available in the past. A cultural keystone tree species in the forests of eastern North America, white pine pro vides numerous ecosystem goods and services to indigenous peoples and has long been an important component of traditional life within the Kitcisakik Algonquin community (Uprety et al., 2013). The community suggested that mixed plantations should be used in a culturally adapted restoration strategy. ...
Full-text available
Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is a planned process that aims to regain ecological integrity and enhance human wellbeing in deforested or degraded landscapes. This chapter explains the need of integration of traditional and western knowledge into Forest Landscape Restoration.
Inexplicably, the review literature on biological invasions has often omitted those by plant pathogens. Here, we provide a review on the consequences of invasions by forest pathogens, whether non-native and introduced or native and invasive due to ecosystem-level alterations such as those caused by climate change, practices associated with forestry, and the planting of exotic hosts. Together, these two classes of invasive pathogens can be defined as emergent and can lead to the rise of novel plant diseases causing detrimental effects on affected ecosystems. This chapter will present examples of such detrimental effects with a focus that goes beyond the mortality of the main host plants, by including ecosystem-level, evolutionary, economic, and societal impacts associated with disease outbreaks caused by emergent tree pathogens.
This article analyzes human orientations related to current environmental issues and proposes positive creative responses, in dialogue especially with Martin Buber, Nick Black Elk, Pope Francis, and Lynn White Jr. It illustrates the problems in relation to Indigenous peoples and coloniality contexts, highlighting both distorted and reverential approaches to trees through consideration of a concrete historical case—the radical depletion and degradation of the white pine forest ecosystem of Ontario and other areas of eastern North America, from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. The article (i) compares this Canadian/USA context with current conditions in the Amazon rainforest of South America; (ii) analyzes core traditional distorted human attitudes that contribute to such environmental destruction and sociocultural repression, in which trees are solely objectified, hypercommodified, and radically exploited; (iii) points to supportive and personally transforming attitudes toward trees—especially through Jewish-philosophical and Indigenous models—that highlight their intrinsic value and our potential relationship with them, in respectful, appreciative, nonintentional, and deeply spiritual ways; and (iv) relates the dialogue to contemporary socioeconomic concerns and interests.
Full-text available
Over recent decades, Indigenous knowledge (IK) systems, people, and territories have increasingly been recognized in mainstream conservation practice. However, recognition of the value of IK by governing bodies varies and is often a result of colonial and “development” history and the strength of hegemonic attitudes. Through regional case studies, this chapter explores the progress and challenges of integrating IK in conservation action which is key to narrowing the knowledge-implementation gap in this discipline. Key enabling factors allow IK integration into conservation action at national levels including: recognition of Indigenous land ownership; development and acceptance of cross-cultural or Indigenous methods; devolution of power to include Indigenous People in decision-making processes; acknowledgment of Indigenous groups and their rights; and acknowledgment of the benefits of using IK in biodiversity conservation. The regional case studies presented in this chapter suggest that the recognition of IK systems in conservation programs is greatly facilitated by adopting three pillars of Indigenous empowerment (Indigenous land ownership, acknowledgment of Indigenous peoples and their rights, and acknowledgment of the value of Indigenous knowledge systems) with concomitant benefit to narrow the knowledge-implementation gap in conservation science.
Full-text available
We assess how different certification standards address Aboriginal issues in Canada, augmenting current legislation related to Aboriginal issues. The benefits from forest certification and the obstacles to its adoption by the Aboriginal community are also reviewed. We conclude that it would take significant effort, time, and resources to achieve widespread Aboriginal adoption of forest certification.
Exploring a topic of vital and ongoing importance, Traditional Forest Knowledge examines the history, current status and trends in the development and application of traditional forest knowledge by local and indigenous communities worldwide. It considers the interplay between traditional beliefs and practices and formal forest science and interrogates the often uneasy relationship between these different knowledge systems. The contents also highlight efforts to conserve and promote traditional forest management practices that balance the environmental, economic and social objectives of forest management. It places these efforts in the context of recent trends towards the devolution of forest management authority in many parts of the world. The book includes regional chapters covering North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Australia-Pacific region. As well as relating the general factors mentioned above to these specific areas, these chapters cover issues of special regional significance, such as the importance of traditional knowledge and practices for food security, economic development and cultural identity. Other chapters examine topics ranging from key policy issues to the significant programs of regional and international organisations, and from research ethics and best practices for scientific study of traditional knowledge to the adaptation of traditional forest knowledge to climate change and globalisation. "Forestry, the oldest of the resource management sciences, has been coming under pressure in recent years to incorporate multiple values. Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge is remarkable for its comprehensive coverage of world regions and 'hot' topics such as globalization, climate change and research ethics. It is a unique book, marking a breakthrough with its authoritative treatment of alternative sources of knowledge and multiple perspectives, and contributing to a paradigm change in forest management." - Fikret Berkes, Distinguished Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Manitoba, and author of Sacred Ecology
Indigenous groups offer alternative knowledge and perspectives based on their own locally developed practices of resource use. We surveyed the international literature to focus on the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in monitoring, responding to, and managing ecosystem processes and functions, with special attention to ecological resilience. Case studies revealed that there exists a diversity of local or traditional practices for ecosystem management. These include multiple species management, resource rotation, succession management, landscape patchiness management, and other ways of responding to and managing pulses and ecological surprises. Social mechanisms behind these traditional practices include a number of adaptations for the generation, accumulation, and transmission of knowledge; the use of local institutions to provide leaders/stewards and rules for social regulation; mechanisms for cultural internalization of traditional practices; and the development of appropriate world views and cultural values. Some traditional knowledge and management systems were characterized by the use of local ecological knowledge to interpret and respond to feedbacks from the environment to guide the direction of resource management. These traditional systems had certain similarities to adaptive management with its emphasis on feedback learning, and its treatment of uncertainty and unpredictability intrinsic to all ecosystems.
Trees and forests surround our communities. We often take them for granted. We also forget, or fail to recognize, that others see, experience, understand, and value trees and forests differently. In this paper, the value and importance of trees and forests are explored through descriptions of cultural and historical perspectives and beliefs held by forestry professionals and members of the public who are nonforestry professionals. Specifically, two common views held by forestry professionals, that the public does not really care about trees and forests, and that they are not knowledgeable about trees and forests, are examined. Findings from studies that explore the importance of trees and forests to people and the beliefs and belief systems held by people form a foundation for a research agenda based on understanding such phenomena.
Reported here are two dendrochronological series, one for white pine, the Champlain series (1470-1987), the second for hemlock, the Riviere-du-Moulin series (1524-1982), which together span the period of historical colonisation for eastern North America. The construction of a long, white pine reference series was made possible by using series built locally from: 1) subfossil trees sampled in the Charlevoix region at a site where a landslide occurred after the 1663 earthquake (period 1470-1662); 2) living trees sampled in the Lotbiniere region at the Riviere-du-Moulin site (period 1734-1987), and 3) wood excavated at various archeological sites in the Quebec region, along with samples from the two high altars in the Ursulines' chapel, located in Old Quebec city. Going back to late 17th century and early 18th century, samples from the third group bridge the gap between the Charlevoix and the Lotbiniere local series. The hemlock tree-ring series (Riviere-du-Moulin) (1524-1982) was built from living trees sampled in the Lotbiniere region.
This paper discusses the characteristics and application of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom (TEKW) of aboriginal peoples in British Columbia, Canada. Examples are provided from various groups, most notably, the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Interior Salish and Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-Chah-Nulth peoples of the Northwest Coast, covering a range of features comprising TEKW: knowledge of ecological principles, such as succession and interrelatedness of all components of the environment; use of ecological indicators; adaptive strategies for monitoring, enhancing, and sustainably harvesting resources; effective systems of knowledge acquisition and transfer; respectful and interactive attitudes and philosophies; close identification with ancestral lands; and beliefs that recognize the power and spirituality of nature. These characteristics, taken in totality, have enabled many groups of aboriginal peoples to live sustainably within their local environments for many thousands of years. In order for TEKW to be incorporated appropriately into current ecosystem-based management strategies, the complete context of TEKW, including its philosophical bases, must be recognized and respected. A case study of ecological and cultural knowledge of the traditional root vegetables yellow avalanche lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) and balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) illustrates ways in which these components can be integrated.