Julie Nielsen

PhD Candidate
Resource & Environmental Management


  • Diploma in Forestry, BCIT
  • BSc, Conservation Biology, University of Alberta
  • MSc, Environmental Science, University of Lethbridge


I am a Registered Professional Biologist specializing in forest ecology with a background in watershed management, forestry, conservation biology, and tree physiology. For my doctoral research I bridge aspects of natural science with social science, using western redcedar (Thuja plicata) (hereafter; “cedar”) as a common subject of interest across the disciplines of policy and law, anthropology and ecology. To conduct three distinct studies that collectively form my research I have worked in collaboration with the Nanwakolas Council. This council represents five member First Nations whose traditional territories are located in the Northern Vancouver Island and adjacent South-Central Coast areas of British Columbia, Canada. I assess the compatibility of the policy and regulations developed by the Nanwakolas Council for member Nations’ long-term stewardship of cedar, with those of the provincial government. In particular, I examine the policy and regulations in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement that govern cedar harvesting and aboriginal tree use, which are guided by the theory and principles of ecosystem-based management.  Further, I examine the value of cedar to aboriginal peoples and the dynamics of traditional carving practices overtime through interviews with several ‘master/cultural’ Kwakwaka’wakw carvers. In addition, I have conducted a field study to investigate site and tree characteristics that may serve as indicators of heartwood decay in large cultural cedar trees. As such, I explore the ecology of decay in living cedar. Collectively, this research will be used to better understand and inform the development and implementation of policy (prescribed by First Nations as well as the Province) that aims to accommodate First Nations goals concerning cultural cedar use.