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

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Modelling the effect of Canada's clean fuel standard on greenhouse gas emissions

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-14
Abstract: 

Canada is projected to miss its 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target. Consequently, there remain federal policies that have been announced but not yet implemented that aim to close the 2030 “emissions gap”. This study assesses the likely effects of one such policy, the Clean Fuel Standard (CFS), on GHG emissions using the gTech energy-economy model, with a focus on the importance of policy interactions as they relate to the CFS’s GHG abatement potential. The study finds that Canada’s CFS as proposed would cause about 7Mt of GHG emissions reductions by 2030 when added to other planned and implemented climate policies. An exploratory method for quantifying GHG emissions reductions “overlap” between climate policies is developed. The results emphasize the importance to analysts and policy makers of accounting for both the incremental and combinatory effects of different types of interacting climate polices.

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

Integrating communities into ecosystem-based management

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-05-25
Abstract: 

Designing a system of ecosystem-based management (EBM) requires a context dependent understanding of landscape patterns across space and time. Hence for distinct social-ecological systems grappling with developing new policies to support EBM, researchers and planners need to think critically about the types of data sources and analytical approaches that are most appropriate for a specific situation. In this thesis, I describe my research in the Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of British Columbia, Canada, that involves collaborations with six different First Nation communities. I incorporate data with a historical or Indigenous context to assess and develop novel approaches for spatial analysis and EBM planning. This research was coproduced with Indigenous communities and aims to bring together disparate disciplines and knowledge systems. For example, first, I show that using species distribution models of western redcedar trees developed from combining field surveys and archaeological records can help predict the spatial extent and understand the past distribution of an important biocultural resource with rapidly shifting baseline conditions. Second, I show that using traditional ecological knowledge to refine categories of trees used by Indigenous carvers can change estimates of abundance and thus alter the resulting targets for an intergenerational stewardship strategy. Third, I show that forest harvesting on the central coast of BC, Canada has sequentially targeted the most productive and accessible components of the environment and that policy interventions can disrupt these trends. Fourth, I show that past spatial planning to design a system of landscape reserves significantly exceeded the associated conservation targets and that human and ecological factors affected the overall reserve design. Collectively, this research develops new approaches for using community and historical data in EBM planning and highlights the importance of collaborating with communities to address theoretical and applied research questions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ken Lertzman
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Investing in co-governance: Exploring sustainable funding for co-governance in the Nicola watershed

Date created: 
2019-12-17
Abstract: 

Momentum is building behind a new approach to Crown-Indigenous relations that is based on reconciliation, shared decision-making, and nation-to-nation engagement. In British Columbia’s Nicola watershed, this shift has manifested itself in the Nicola Watershed Governance Project (NWGP), an innovative pilot project that is seeking to establish watershed co-governance between the provincial government and five Indigenous Nations. A major challenge facing the NWGP is securing sustainable funding that will ensure the long-term viability of the project beyond the three-year pilot funding period. This research addresses this challenge by investigating key considerations and potential options for developing a sustainable funding model for the NWGP. Three main research methods were employed: (1) background research to identify key funding concepts and situate the NWGP in broader historical and theoretical context; (2) a jurisdictional scan to identify key learnings from other funding models; and (3) a structured analysis of potential core funding options for the NWGP. While investigating sustainable funding for the NWGP was the primary objective of this research, the results are also analyzed to draw conclusions regarding the state of watershed governance funding across the province.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Evelyn Pinkerton
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Benchmarking fiscal benefit distributions through Impact Benefit Agreements: A case study of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-05-11
Abstract: 

Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs) are increasingly important in the planning and successful execution of major resource development projects in Canada. IBAs are tools of Indigenous community development and are intended to help return resource development benefits to locally impacted Indigenous communities. Fiscal benefits delivered through IBAs are often a much needed source of community funding. This report presents a methodology to evaluate the quantum of fiscal benefits Indigenous governments receive through IBAs relative to benchmark standards developed though a literature review. The methodology is applied to a case study of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The results show that IBAs likely fall short in their objective to deliver an adequate share of fiscal benefits to Indigenous governments relative to the fiscal benchmarks used in the evaluation. This report aims to provide tools and recommendations to aide First Nations in the negotiation of IBAs so as to provide a more equitable distribution of the benefits of natural resource development in Canada.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Thomas Gunton
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Testing the limits of water as a human right: A comparison of First Nations in Canada and Palestinian communities

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-05-29
Abstract: 

Researchers have long questioned if legally-framed efforts, such as the UN declaration of the Human Right to Water, are adequately framed to enable universal enjoyment of the right (Singh et al, 2016; Donnelly, 2006). This document investigates these questions around the realization of the human right to water by comparing First Nations Communities in Canada and Palestinian communities. I posit that both communities continue to face lower rates of water security as a result of settler colonialism, jurisdictional fragmentation and funding patterns. I discuss how these similarities can be related directly to shortcomings of the Human Right to water, specifically its nature as a derivative right, the hegemonic framework, and limited applicability on the ground. The objective of this research is to discuss the common barriers to water access facing these two groups and identify tools that can better serve marginalized communities in realizing the human right to water.

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

Quantifying Blue Carbon for the largest salt marsh in southern British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-03-12
Abstract: 

Salt marshes are highly valuable ecosystems that have recently been recognized for the climate change mitigation potential of their soil carbon sequestration. This ‘blue carbon’ is sequestered annually and can be stored for more than a century, but their storage potential has not been well studied on the Pacific coast of North America. This study collected sediment cores from high and low marsh zones in the western portion of Boundary Bay, Delta, British Columbia (BC), to assess carbon storage and carbon accumulation rates (CARs). Carbon stocks in the high marsh were significantly higher compared to low marsh, averaging 84.2 ± 30.9 Mg C/ha and 39.3 ± 24.2 Mg C/ha, respectively. CARs ranged from 19.5 to 454 g C/m2yr, with an average of 137 ± 162 g C/m2yr and a median of 70.1 g C/m2yr. Our CARs indicate that the marsh exhibits substantial variability. Both carbon stocks and accumulation rates were at least 45% lower than global estimates but were similar to other studies on the Pacific coast of North America. By controlling for marsh environment and dating method, we provide a new 210Pb estimate of CAR of 88 ± 20 g C/m2yr for the Pacific coast of North America. Our low carbon stock and accumulation rates in comparison to global estimates are likely due to the shallow depth of the marsh and the dominant type of vegetation. Despite historical modifications and disturbances to the marsh, our study suggests that the western portion of Boundary Bay marsh has been growing in areal extent since at least 1930. Current legislation in the province of BC does not adequately protect salt marshes. This study provides the first quantification of carbon stocks and CARs, which is an important step towards leveraging the co-benefit of salt marshes for improved management, restoration, and preservation for these ecologically and culturally important ecosystems. This study outlines subsequent steps and research needed for Boundary Bay marsh, or other salt marshes in BC, to be included in a voluntary carbon market in British Columbia.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Karen Kohfeld
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Adapting international freshwater agreements for fish conservation

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-06
Abstract: 

International freshwater treaties govern the cooperative use of waters in the world’s major shared river basins but have a poor track record when it comes to species protection. Covering over forty percent of the earth’s land surface, shared basins are highly relevant to biodiversity conservation efforts with most water treaties directly affecting species and their habitats in some way. Using the Columbia River Treaty and the river basin it governs as a case study, I focus on understanding barriers to the inclusion of species conservation in the formulation and implementation of these agreements. An opening chapter illustrates the absence of, or ambiguity regarding, species conservation in the formal texts of the global collection of agreements and describes four contributing barriers: a) complexity avoidance, b) undervalued species, c) poorly understood trade-offs, and d) institutional norms. In the second chapter, I focus on b) using a welfare economics approach to assess the capacity of the Columbia River to provide four ecosystem services derived from salmon. The approach illustrates how non-zero estimates of economic value for a species can be developed in a transboundary river basin. In Chapter 3, I focus on c) by applying multi-attribute utility optimization across salmon conservation, hydropower production, and agricultural irrigation to forecast optimal flows in the Hanford Reach segment of the Columbia River. This chapter shows how, in a simulated environment, optimization can be used to explore alternative transboundary water sharing strategies that balance trade-offs across multiple values. In Chapter 4, I focus on d) using a method called incident analysis to examine a prior conflict between Canada and the US over US efforts to conserve an endangered species of sturgeon. This study provides insights regarding the Columbia River Treaty’s adaptive capacity to respond to evolving species conservation needs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Murray Rutherford
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Community participation in protected areas in Iran, Afghanistan, and India

Date created: 
2020-04-22
Abstract: 

Community participation has become an essential part of protected area (PA) management worldwide. This thesis contributes suggestions for improving conservation effectiveness and efficiency by boosting responsible local community participation in PA management. I studied Sabzkouh PA in Iran, Shah Foladi PA in Afghanistan, and Bhitarkanika National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in India to examine: (1) what factors affect community participation in PAs in developing countries? (2) what roles can state governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play to support community participation? (3) how can application of equity criteria improve PA management? My studies, conducted between 2009 and 2018, combined document reviews with personal observations, participatory rural appraisal workshops, and open-ended interviews with local community members, state government staff, NGO representatives, and researchers. The result is a suite of recommendations and cautions for conservation practitioners seeking to improve PA management through collaborations with local communities. Respecting local communities’ knowledge, norms, and livelihoods surfaced as important components for building relationships and trust between the local communities and the state governments. Building trust and capacities is contingent on satisfying essential community needs and on transparent, fair, and collaborative PA management planning and implementation. Community based natural resources management projects can share the benefits and reduce the burdens of conservation for the communities while building the capacity of local communities to participate in PA management. Senses of equity and justice arise from deliberate collaboration and information sharing between the state government and local communities. Promoting shared governance, including the use of multi-stakeholder management committees, is an apt tool for decision-making that represents the full range of local community constituents, interests, and preferences. National and international NGOs can facilitate relationships between the state and local communities, provide funding, and fill gaps in management and technical capacities. Community participation in PA management and governance is a process that requires ongoing dialogue and trust among the stakeholders.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
John R. Welch
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Developing a community-based environmental monitoring program for butter clams in Metlakatla territory

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-30
Abstract: 

Community-based environmental monitoring (CBEM) offers locally adapted and culturally relevant methods that Indigenous peoples, and others, can use to lead or participate in natural resource decision-making. Explicitly incorporating community values and local and Traditional Knowledge into monitoring programs can provide social, cultural and environmental benefits. In collaboration with Metlakatla First Nation, I designed and tested a monitoring protocol for butter clams (Saxidomus gigantea), which are highly valued by Metlakatla people. The CBEM protocol for butter clams supports Metlakatla’s efforts to track and manage cumulative effects by collecting baseline data on butter clams in Metlakatla territory. This research demonstrates that CBEM is an effective approach for collecting data that will be used to inform local environmental decision-making. Based on this initial application of the CBEM protocol, I make recommendations to inform Metlakatla’s approach to monitoring additional environmental components, and to guide other Indigenous communities seeking to develop community-based approaches to monitoring.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Murray Rutherford
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Integrating the Community Perspective: An exploration of Prospect Theory as a tool to derive benefits in Negotiated Agreements

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-08
Abstract: 

This paper provides an overview of negotiated agreements as strategies for community engagement in conjunction with insights from the field of behavioral economics, specifically Prospect Theory. Prospect Theory posits that losses are valued more than gains from a reference state and result in large valuation disparities in experimental studies. This study estimates valuation disparities within compensating and equivalent variation measures of WTP and WTA in a structured field experiment. A case study undertaken in Loreto, Baja California Sur, explores interactions between tourism development and impacts to household water security. The study finds moderate valuation disparities ranging from 1.09 to 1.15 that were statistically significant when maximum likelihood estimation was used. The paper then discusses whether applied Prospect Theory can function as a tool to derive benefits within negotiated agreement frameworks.The research concludes that participating communities may benefit from being able to retain a greater share of development benefits at local scales.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Duncan Knowler
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)