A First Nations forester turns to traditional knowledge and new technology for wiser resource management
As the original inhabitants of the place that today we call British Columbia (B.C.), First Nations are the holders of thousands of years of traditional knowledge about these lands. Although there is no universally accepted definition of traditional knowledge, the Assembly of First Nations says it is commonly understood as “the collective knowledge of traditions used by Indigenous groups to sustain and adapt themselves to their environment over time.” This knowledge is deeply rooted in First Nations history and culture and is passed down through generations.
Today we often talk about sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” as it has been defined by the United Nationsʼ Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Increasingly, we are discovering the linkages between traditional knowledge and the call for more sustainable practices. Yet, to a large extent, the western world has been slow to incorporate this knowledge into natural management approaches. However, with the growing role of First Nations in the forest sector, the acknowledgement of rights and title, and the leadership of First Nations in land use planning, traditional knowledge is beginning to take its rightful place—assuming a larger role in the environmental conversation among industry, academia, and government.
Matt Wealick is a member of the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe near Chilliwack in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. Their territory is over 95,000 hectares and is “rich in Ts’elxwéyeqw cultural history, natural beauty, and resources.” Their mission is “to achieve strength, unity, and success by managing natural and cultural resources for the well-being of our people and our environment.”
Wealick’s family has a long history rooted in the forestlands of B.C. His father worked in forestry, which led him to northern Vancouver Island, where Wealick grew up—deep in the heart of the forest industry. After spending several years on logging crews and as a professional hockey player, he earned his bachelor of science in forestry, and later a master of arts in environment and management. Today he is a Registered Professional Forester.
An increasing number of health-care facilities are incorporating wood to provide patients and visitors with a warm, natural aesthetic, and a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature.
Research begins to show the biophilic benefits of wood, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Study results show students who spent time in rooms featuring natural wood exhibited lower stress reactivity. During all three periods of the study, stress, as measured by sympathetic nervous system activation, was measurably lower on average in the rooms featuring wood than in the non-wood office.
The bold, striking use of wood throughout the space — uncommon in such health-care settings— softens the hospital’s institutional feel and creates a calm, stress-reducing connection to nature, while standing up to weather, wear and tear, and rigorous maintenance. As the research on biophilic benefits of wood continues to grow, one of B.C.’s busiest hospitals leads the way in offering patients a comforting, supportive, and healing environment.
For architect and timber advocate Peter Busby, wood is one of nature’s greatest innovations
B.C. forest products are a predominant structural and finishing material for a wide range of transit infrastructure throughout the province, including airports, bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations. Learn more about the use of wood in transportation projects.
Learn about the latest wood design and construction trends within these four building applications while earning Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) recognized continuing learning units towards professional development.
With its wide-ranging use of different wood species, the Prince George Airport demonstrates how a high-traffic building can benefit from the resilience, versatility, durability, and thermal characteristics of wood. These were important considerations for this northern city, situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, which is prone to cold, harsh winters.
An effective insulator with a warm aesthetic, wood is particularly well suited to the demanding atmospheres of swimming pools — as well as ice rinks in arenas. Wood tolerates high levels of humidity, offers acoustic and thermal benefits, and absorbs and releases water vapour without compromising its structural integrity. Indoor pool design has evolved to include ample use of natural light and bold, innovative uses of B.C. wood from sustainably managed forests.
Interview with Darryl Condon, Managing Principal of HCMA Architecture + Design, who has embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. He shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.
Located in John Hendry Park in east Vancouver, this ice rink was the first phase in the replacement of an aging community centre facility. The rink served as a practice facility for competitors who participated in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and opened for public use after the Games.
A First Nations forester is combining traditional knowledge with new technologies, such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR), for wiser resource management. Discover how Indigenous forestry initiatives can help the future sustainability of our working forests.