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

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Trading off political acceptability and economic efficiency: Policy options for reducing Canada’s electricity and transportation emissions

Date created: 
2016-12-12
Abstract: 

This study used the energy-economy model CIMS to assess policy options for achieving Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction commitment under the Paris agreement, with a focus on electricity and transportation sector reductions. The results found that existing and promised policies will likely be far from sufficient to achieve the Paris target. Two alternative approaches to close the gap to achieving the target were explored: one relying solely on emissions pricing and one relying primarily on flexible regulations. While emissions pricing is generally regarded as the most economically efficient way to reduce emissions, the results found that an emissions price on the order of $200/tCO2 would likely be required to achieve the Paris target, which would likely be very difficult politically to implement. The proposed flexible regulations approach offers an alternative that may be somewhat less economically efficient but may have a better chance of being implemented and thus achieving the target.

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. (Planning)

A novel technological and collaborative approach to mapping deep-sea benthic habitats and assessing risks from bottom contact fishing

Date created: 
2016-12-19
Abstract: 

Bottom longline fishing gear can damage sensitive benthic areas (SBAs) in the ocean; however, the risks to these habitats are poorly understood. In this study we describe a collaborative academic-industry-government approach to mapping SBAs and measuring gear interactions with seafloor habitats via novel deepwater trap camera and motion-sensing systems on commercial longline traps for Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) within the SGaan Kinghlas - Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area. We obtained direct presence-absence observations of cold-water corals and sponges that were used to develop species distribution models of gorgonian corals (Alcyonacea) in fished areas. Video, accelerometer and depth sensor data were used to classify gear movement, estimating a mean bottom footprint of 3 200 m2 (95% CI = 2 400 - 3 900 m2) for a 60-trap Sablefish longline set approximately 3 km in length. Our successful collaboration demonstrates how research partnerships with the fishing industry offer new opportunities for conducting SBA risk assessments over large spatial and temporal scales.

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

Eco-cultural restoration as a step towards co-management: lessons from the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-06
Abstract: 

This case study examines co-management in national parks and protected areas using theory on institutional arrangements of common pool resources. I apply a co-management framework to evaluate how characteristics of the community, of the resource, of the state agency, and of the institutional arrangement support co-management in a partnership between Parks Canada and Hul’qumi’num communities in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (GINPR). Results show that state and community partnerships can foster co-management even without formal structures for sharing power and decision-making. Notably, the nature of the institutional arrangement, which focuses on restoring a clam garden, supports co-management by challenging conservation approaches that restrict human activities in order to protect biodiversity. In the GINPR, informal processes were integral to successful outcomes. These processes directed energy to address local priorities using conservation approaches that are driven by local First Nations values. Nevertheless, co-management is limited without equitable sharing of power in key management functions: planning, policy making, data collection, and analysis.

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

Improving bioaccumulation assessment: Relationship between in vitro and in vivo biotransformation rates of hydrophobic organic chemicals in mammals

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-11-21
Abstract: 

The effective management of industrial and commercial chemicals in the environment requires good public policy based on sound science. The overall objective of this research is to improve national and international regulatory programs for the environmental management of industrial and commercial chemicals by developing and testing methods for the assessment of bioaccumulation of chemicals in biota. Bioaccumulation is a key consideration in the assessment of the environmental impacts of chemicals on environmental and human health. A review of regulatory approaches to the assessment and management of chemicals shows that current methods for assessing chemical bioaccumulation lack a priori consideration of the ability of organisms to biotransform chemicals and methods to assess bioaccumulation in species other than fish. The specific objective of my research is to develop and test a scientifically sound and cost-effective method for assessing bioaccumulation of chemicals in a mammalian species that incorporates the ability of mammals to biotransform chemicals. A thin-film sorbent-phase dosing method was developed and tested to measure the in vitro biotransformation rates of hydrophobic chemicals in rat and fish liver S9 fractions. The results showed that the biotransformation rates measured using the sorbent-phase dosing system were significantly higher than those measured using conventional solvent-delivery dosing methods. The sorbent-phase dosing system demonstrated several advantages over traditional solvent-dosing methods for hydrophobic chemicals by (i) eliminating incomplete dissolution of very hydrophobic substances in largely aqueous liver homogenates; (ii) providing a method for measuring the unbound fraction of substrate in solution; and (iii) simplifying chemical analysis. Also, an in vitro-to-in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) method was developed to estimate whole body biotransformation rate constants and biomagnification factors (BMFs) of hydrophobic chemicals in rats from in vitro biotransformation rates. The IVIVE methodology was evaluated and found to be consistent with IVIVE models for pharmaceuticals and produced estimates of rat whole body biotransformation rate constants and BMFs for benzo[a]pyrene which were within the range of empirical values. The proposed IVIVE model for bioaccumulation assessment requires fewer physiological and physiochemical parameters than those used for pharmaceutical drug research; does not involve interconversions between clearance and rate constants in the extrapolation; and may be a useful method for conducting regulatory bioaccumulation assessments in a mammalian species. Finally, recommendations for improving regulatory assessment and control of potentially hazardous commercial chemicals in Canada are presented.

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

Understanding Resilience in a Vulnerable Industry: A Case of Retailing in a Mountain Resort Community

Date created: 
2016-11-04
Abstract: 

The retail landscape is continually subject to changing market trends and conditions. Increasingly researchers use resilience concepts to understand how retail systems adapt and respond to change, which can help communities and retailers better anticipate and prepare for the inevitable altering conditions. This project analyzes local stakeholder perceptions to understand aspects of resilience and vulnerability in the context of Whistler BC’s destination retail system. Through qualitative interviews and an online survey of local retailers, this research identified factors perceived as influential to local retail sector performance. The study highlights Whistler’s retail system elements that link to its resilience and vulnerability, including components of its retail sector composition; customer qualities; local social, physical, and economic conditions; and its governance processes. This investigation offers an original Destination Retail Resilience Framework that integrates resilience and vulnerability concepts drawn from relevant literature, for application within a resort retail system.

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

Evaluating Cumulative Effects Assessment within Environmental Impact Assessment: A Case Study on the LNG Canada Export Terminal

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-09-15
Abstract: 

Cumulative effects are the accumulated spatial and temporal impacts to environmental and socioeconomic values from multiple projects and other activities. Cumulative effects assessment (CEA) assesses these accumulated impacts. This project used best practices for evaluating CEA under environmental assessment (EA) through a case study analysis of LNG Canada’s proposal to build a liquefied natural gas plant and port in Kitimat, British Columbia. Strengths and weaknesses of the current CEA process are identified. Overall, the evaluation found that only two of seventeen best practices were met. Recommendations are made to mitigate the deficiencies, including undertaking CEA as part of a comprehensive regional planning process instead of as part of EA.

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

In-season forecasting of Fraser Chinook Salmon using genetic stock identification of test fishery data

Date created: 
2016-08-23
Abstract: 

In-season methods that produce accurate and timely forecasts of returning salmon abundances allow fisheries managers to alter fishing plans in order to meet conservation and harvest objectives. In-season methods are challenged by variability in catch statistics due to factors external to abundance, specifically, fluctuations in the migration timing of target and co-migrating stocks. I apply genetic stock identification (GSI) data to develop catch indices for the five Fraser Chinook management units, and use these indices to forecast returns for each management unit according to four in-season model forms. I evaluate models using three performance measures to determine forecasting errors. Results show that forecasts for Spring 52 and Summer 52 Chinook can be produced with reasonable accuracy early in the fishing season. Forecasts of Spring 42, Summer 41, and Fall Chinook are less accurate. Results indicate that this technique shows promise for providing accurate and timely forecasts for the five Fraser Chinook management units, particularly as additional years of data are GSI-analyzed.

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

Using genetic species identification and environmental data to distinguish historical catches of cryptic Blackspotted Rockfish (Sebastes melanostictus) and Rougheye Rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus) in British Columbia

Date created: 
2015-12-15
Abstract: 

Visually classifying species is the most common method used in fisheries to estimate catch compositions for commercial and survey data, but catch records can be confounded when two or more morphologically similar species are classified as a single species (i.e., cryptic species)—as is the case for Blackspotted Rockfish and Rougheye Rockfish. To partition catches between the two species, I used genetic species identification data in regression models relating the proportion of Blackspotted Rockfish relative to the overall Rougheye/Blackspotted Rockfish catch to measures of set depth, location, and bottom ruggedness. The best model included a negative relationship with longitude and positive relationship with bottom ruggedness. I also used large-scale spatial predictors to estimate historical landings of each species, finding that the inclusion of trap longline commercial data after 2006 caused an increase in the relative proportion of Blackspotted Rockfish caught (out of the total Rougheye/Blackspotted Rockfish landings). Finally, I examined observer accuracy in distinguishing Blackspotted and Rougheye Rockfish and found that while 86% of fish were identified correctly, Blackspotted Rockfish were more likely to be misidentified, leading to a 55% overestimate of the actual Rougheye Rockfish catch and a 14% underestimate of the Blackspotted Rockfish catch. My results indicate that set-specific variables are most useful in estimating proportions of Blackspotted Rockfish and can be used to estimate how spatial shifts in fishing efforts will impact fishing mortality of Blackspotted Rockfish and Rougheye Rockfish.

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

Designing Politically Acceptable and Effective Policies to Mitigate Climate Change

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-05-25
Abstract: 

Several criteria are usually considered when evaluating climate policy options. If the policy is ineffective, it will not achieve the emission reduction goal. If the policy is effective and economically efficient, it could achieve the goal at a relatively low cost. But if the policy is likely to trigger strong opposition from an influential segment of the public, its inability to achieve political acceptability may prevent its implementation, even by politicians who are keen to reduce emissions. The goal of this thesis is to identify the key attributes of acceptable climate policies to help policy-makers improve their chances of implementing and sustaining policies that actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The thesis consists of four distinct research papers. The first paper focuses primarily on the assessment of policy effectiveness and efficiency using British Columbia’s carbon tax and clean electricity standard as a case study for comparing two policies that differ significantly. Specifically, I describe and analyze these policies using multi-attribute policy evaluation criteria that include annual emission reductions and economic costs of emission reductions due to each policy. The other three papers address the issue of political acceptability by exploring in different ways its one key component, citizen support. In particular, I assess citizen support for different types of climate policies and identify the key factors predicting policy support, using a representative sample of Canadian citizens (n=1,306). Several findings emerge from my research. First, while carbon taxes are considered the most economically efficient climate policy, they are the least popular type of policy among the general public. In contrast, regulatory policies, including clean electricity standards, low carbon fuel standards, and efficiency regulations, appear to receive relatively high citizen support while causing substantial emission reductions. Second, citizen knowledge of climate policy is not associated with higher policy support, suggesting that widespread knowledge and well-informed citizen support may not be required for implementation of effective climate policies. Third, only a few factors are consistent predictors of citizen support across policy types, including being concerned about climate change, having trust in scientists, and being female. Other significant factors are unique to different policy types.

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

Evaluating Cumulative Effects Assessment in Environmental Impact Assessment: A Case Study on the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project

Date created: 
2016-06-29
Abstract: 

As new projects are being developed in various sectors throughout British Columbia and Canada, there is an increased need to assess how these projects collectively impact the environment. While environmental impact assessment is the process used to analyze and assess the environmental impacts from a single project, cumulative effects assessment (CEA) analyzes and assesses the environmental impacts from multiple projects and activities over space and time. I evaluate the quality of CEA through a case study analysis on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, using a defined set of best practice criteria for CEA. The evaluation specifically focuses on the assessment of the eight biophysical valued components included in the environmental assessment application for the project. Based on the results of the evaluation, I identify strengths and weaknesses in the CEA and provide recommendations for improvement.

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