Main content area

Financiers in the forests on Vancouver Island, British Columbia: On fixes and colonial enclosures

Ekers, Michael
Journal of agrarian change 2019 v.19 no.2 pp. 270-294
First Nations, capital, financial assets, forest land, forest policy, forests, politics, trees, woodlands, British Columbia
Starting in the mid 2000s, a financial asset management company and institutional investors began to invest in timberlands in British Columbia, Canada's most western province. In a period of political economic crisis, investors looked to real assets—“dirt and trees” in the words of one research participant—as a means of accumulating capital through securing access to huge parcels of the most productive and valuable forestland in North America. This article analyses these investments as a socioecological fix for finance capital suggesting that investments in land represent a means for capital and the state to negotiate moments of crisis. The article complicates existing accounts of fixes by demonstrating how the survival of capital in a settler context is fully dependent on an ongoing settler‐colonial project of separating Indigenous people from their land base. The article focuses on the explicitly “private” nature of the land under examination and how this is central to the strategies of investors, the state's deregulation of forest policies, and the marginalization of First Nations' claims to land. The article demonstrates that in settler contexts, discussions of fixes need to be much more attentive to the historic and enduring colonial threads woven through investments in land.