Resource and Environmental Management - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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How ENGOs in British Columbia navigate Indigenous rights and title: A look at the past and a present day case study

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-16
Abstract: 

The past decade across Turtle Island (North America) has seen a powerful overarching movement I will refer to as pipeline resistance. Environmental and Indigenous groups have been networking and volunteering vast resources to halt the development of oil pipelines that threaten Indigenous lands and waters—areas that Settlers care about too. Through a literature review, I look at how environmental activism, Indigenous rights and litigation have intersected over time—with a specific focus on British Columbia. I explore how environmental activists have treated Indigenous groups in the past and investigate if colonial courts have begun recognizing Indigenous rights more—giving Indigenous Peoples some legal ability to halt problematic projects. Since it has been implied by pipeline advocates that such ability is the only reason environmentalists have been trying to partner with Indigenous Nations in the anti-pipeline fight, my research investigates if these accusations have merit. To analyze how environmentalists navigate collaboration with Indigenous groups in the pipeline resistance movement, I surveyed 16 Settler employees of environmental groups (ENGOs) opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline project expansion (TMX) in BC. Survey participants were asked about their motives, perceptions, views on decolonization and ENGO protocols for engaging with local Indigenous communities. I also drew upon my own experience in the anti-pipeline movement. What I have found is that, while some organizations do attempt to partner with Indigenous groups in the anti-TMX movement for strategic reasons, the collaboration brought on by pipeline resistance appears to be teaching Settler activists about various Indigenous Nations, their rights and title, colonialism and more. This education appears to be far deeper than anything taught in schools and is perhaps fostering a heightened respect for Indigenous Peoples among Settler activists.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Clifford Atleo
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Paleoecological indicators and carbon dynamics in lake sediments in western Canada and potential implications for protected area carbon management in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-10-10
Abstract: 

Lake sediment from 18 lakes across western Canada was studied in regards to carbon accumulation rate over the last 150 years. Carbon (C) accumulation rate was found to be 3.8 times greater on average in the modern time period (1980-2010) when compared to the historical time period (1830-1860). The largest C accumulation rate change was found in the Boreal Plains ecozone. Maximum lake depth, lake geometry ratio, and temperature related climate variables (e.g., number of ice free days) were significantly correlated to C accumulation rate. There was not a statistically significant difference between lake C accumulation rate between protected and non-protected lakes. To better understand how climate controlled millennial forces of vegetation composition and fire related to carbon accumulation, paleo proxies of pollen and charcoal were investigated on two longer sediment cores in adjacent biogeoclimatic zones of the Kootenay Valley of British Columbia. Broad-scale climatic controls are interpreted as the major influence on high fire frequency and carbon accumulation rate in the dry and hot xerothermic period (11,500-8,000 cal. yrs BP). The Kootenay Valley is expected to return to xerothermic-like climate conditions within the next century. The conversation pertaining to how protected areas would manage for carbon in the future began with a workshop exploring how to frame carbon management. Experts were then interviewed and ecological integrity measures were determined to be the best place for carbon to act as either a co-benefit or as a separate ecological integrity measure. A survey of protected area manager perspectives on the importance of each ecological integrity measure to carbon management was created. Vegetation-related ecological integrity measures were found to have the most importance to co-benefit carbon management. Active management in protected areas should use paleo proxies to find reference biogeoclimatic zones and restoration efforts should focus on retaining carbon on the landscape through maintenance of vegetation-related ecological integrity measures like prescribed burning.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karen Kohfeld
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Breaking down barriers: Building a gender diverse mining workforce in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-19
Abstract: 

In the Columbia Basin-Boundary region of British Columbia (BC), mining has historically been a male dominated sector. Resource communities, such as those found in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region, have traditionally lacked employment opportunities for women. Women choosing to pursue careers in the mining sector can face numerous challenges. This research focussed on ways to break down barriers and build a more gender diverse mining workforce in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. It also investigated the opportunities available to women in rural resource communities and the challenges they faced if they wanted to work in the mining sector. The research methods included semi-structured interviews, a literature review, and a document analysis. Results showed that in the Kootenay region there may be a shift in mining company culture. More progressive policies and respectful workplace culture seem to be creating a more gender inclusive mining sector. The results also showed significant challenges associated with community supports for women who wanted to enter the Kootenay mining workforce. These community supports included the lack of child care spots, high rental and real estate prices, and the lack of opportunities for further education.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sean Markey
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Biodiversity-led green infrastructure in a changing climate

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-26
Abstract: 

The south coast region of British Columbia, and the neighboring Pacific Northwest US states, Oregon and Washington, are dominated by coastal, marine, freshwater, high alpine, and forest ecosystems. This rich biodiversity has significant social, environmental, and economic value, and includes a unique range of flora and fauna. Development of ecological networks at the regional scale is being globally advocated for as a strategy to responding to growing concern regarding the declining biodiversity while building resilience to climate change. The purpose of this report is to investigate the intersection of the global loss of biodiversity and climate change adaptation planning, and specifically answer the question; what is the best management practice for developing green infrastructure networks as a climate change response that also benefits biodiversity? The research is based on publications on green infrastructure and the growing body of work on advancing nature-based solutions to climate change; it was also guided by the expert opinion provided by an interdisciplinary panel with expertise in the field of green infrastructure. The report provides case-study analyses at various scales, the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, Chicago Metropolitan area, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering With Nature program. These case studies highlight ways of identifying and effectively communicating the benefits to biodiversity of green infrastructure implementation, when using an ecosystem and biodiversity perspective. The findings from this study are synthesized into five broad recommendations for governments in the Pacific Northwest region, particularly highlighting the benefits to be achieved through interdisciplinary engagement and coordinated policy-formulation among various governmental agencies.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Zafar Adeel
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Bioaccumulation of PCBs in Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-14
Abstract: 

Chemical contaminants are a threat to Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). The contribution of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in local sediments to the bioaccumulation of PCBs in SRKW was investigated. The temporal and spatial trends of concentrations of PCBs in sediment, Chinook salmon and SRKW were assessed. The half – lives of PCBs were estimated using a food web bioaccumulation model and the concentrations of PCBs in Chinook salmon and SRKW were estimated using Biota Sediment Accumulation Factors. There were no significant temporal declines in the concentrations of PCBs in sediment, Chinook salmon or SRKW as would be expected given the half – lives. The concentrations of PCBs in sediment could bioaccumulate to the levels observed in SRKW. Some similarities in the PCB congener composition were observed in sediment, salmon and SRKW. The results suggest that local environmental sources of PCBs in the Salish Sea could contribute to the PCBs observed in SRKW.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Frank Gobas
Juan José Alava
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Comparing costs of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Carbon Tax for decarbonizing the Canadian transportation sector

Date created: 
2019-07-26
Abstract: 

Economists agree that a uniform, economy-wide carbon tax is the lowest cost policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is less agreement on the comparative cost of the most likely efficient regulatory alternative to the carbon tax, that being the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). This study used the energy-economy-environment model gTech to compare the economic efficiency of the carbon tax and LCFS to decarbonize the Canadian transportation sector. My results suggest the economic efficiency of a carbon tax is about 25% better than the LCFS and that a carbon tax would need to rise to $198/tonne CO2 eq. by 2050 for Canada to achieve a 65% reduction in transportation emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. Considering the likely political difficulty in implementing a high carbon price, a flexible regulation approach might offer an alternative that is slightly less economically efficient but may have a better chance of being implemented.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Jaccard
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Quantitative examination of terrain perception and its effect on ski run choices in expert heli-ski guides

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-12
Abstract: 

Terrain selection is the primary tool for managing avalanche risk during backcountry travel. While some research has examined revealed preferences in professional ski guides to better understand terrain-use choices, the exclusive focus on physical terrain characteristics pertaining to avalanche hazard has offered an incomplete perspective. I present a new framework that comprehensively captures all decision- relevant terrain characteristics and links these features to decision-making in heli-ski guides. Using survey data from two operations, I employed ordinal logistic regression models to quantitatively describe the relationship between specific terrain features and guide perceptions of accessibility, skiing experience, hazard potential, and “guideability.” A Poisson regression model linking these perceptions to terrain use at one operation clearly illustrates how guide decisions are trade-offs between hazards and operational benefits. The framework provides researchers interested in terrain preferences with a structured approach to describe terrain more completely, and it offers practical benefits to heli-ski operations and guides.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Pascal Haegeli
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Diversification within reduced fisheries portfolios signals opportunities for adaptation among a coastal Indigenous community

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-19
Abstract: 

Understanding social-ecological mechanisms that promote or erode resilience to potential disturbances can inform future adaptation strategies. Such mechanisms can be illuminated among seafood dependent communities by documenting change in fisheries portfolios, the assemblage of seafoods caught and/or consumed by a population of fishers. Here, we collected expert knowledge to assess changes in an Indigenous community’s fisheries portfolios and key drivers of change using semi-directed interviews, a quantitative survey, and network analysis. We focused on fisheries caught and consumed for food, social and ceremonial purposes. We found that while fisheries portfolios decreased in their diversity of seafood types, they also became increasingly connected, revealing that harvesters are diversifying their catch and the community is eating a greater number of seafood types within increasingly depauperate portfolios. These changes were driven by four key social-ecological mechanisms; 1) industrial commercial activities under a centralized governance regime, 2) intergenerational knowledge loss, 3) adaptive learning to new ecological and economic opportunities, and 4) trade in seafood with other Indigenous communities. Our results reveal that resilience principles of diversity and connectivity can operate simultaneously in opposing directions. Documenting changes in fisheries portfolios and local perceptions of key social-ecological drivers can inform locally relevant adaptation strategies to bolster future resilience.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anne Salomon
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Adaptive capacity creation in the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (Stó:lō Nation, BC) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (White Mountain Apache Tribe, AZ)

Date created: 
2019-07-12
Abstract: 

Indigenous peoples are disproportionately threatened by a changing climate. Research indicates that U.S. Tribes and Canadian Aboriginal Peoples are experiencing detrimental climate change effects. In this context, Indigenous organizations deserve special consideration as community-based pathfinders for collective welfare. I engaged with two Indigenous organizations that share cultural heritage stewardship missions—the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (Stó:lō Nation, BC) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (White Mountain Apache Tribe, AZ)—to investigate perceptions of climate effects and develop recommendations for organizational support of community adaptive capacity. Research methods included engagement with organizational collaborators, semi-structured interviews with organizational representatives and community members, and organizational documents review. Results indicate that community members are experiencing increase in extreme weather events, changes in water quantity and quality, reductions in long-term water and food security, and reduced access to traditional resources and traditional practices. Results identify diverse opportunities to enable adaptation, most of which are case study-specific. Educational services and information dissemination, cultural perpetuation services, and cooperation facilitation comprise organizational services associated with adaptive capacity enhancement in both case studies. I conclude that Indigenous organizations hold significant potential to support communities in adapting to a changing climate. I identify recommendations to boost and actualize this potential.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Welch
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Advances in integrating urban form and energy-economy modeling for simulating transportation GHG-energy policies

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-26
Abstract: 

Vancouver, British Columbia is one of many leading municipal jurisdictions that has set ambitious GHG emission and renewable energy targets. This analysis uses Vancouver’s Renewable City Strategy as a case study of municipal policy that affects land use, transportation infrastructure, and population densification to assess the impact of urban form and density on transportation GHG emissions, energy use, mode-choice, and travel demand. The CIMS-Urban energy-economy model is used to provide realistic estimations of the effect of municipal policies on technology use and personal mobility behaviour that account for most urban transportation energy demand. The results indicate that improvements to urban form, in the absence of other policies that target vehicle energy efficiency and fuel switching to renewable sources, will not provide sufficient reductions in GHG emissions to achieve ambitious decarbonization targets. Additionally, urban density policy must be accompanied with mixed-use land zoning changes to be effective.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Jaccard
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.