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

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Treatment wetlands for industrial wastewaters: A study of science, policy, and management

Date created: 
2020-07-16
Abstract: 

Bitumen extraction in Alberta’s oil sands region generates large volumes of oil sands process-affected waters (OSPW) that pose environmental and human health risks. Currently, few feasible options for managing these large and growing volumes of polluted waters exist. The primary objective of this research is to investigate the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of treatment wetlands as a treatment option for the oil sands industry. To do this, a mechanistic model of the fate and toxicity of OSPW contaminants in treatments wetlands was developed and tested in field studies at the Kearl Treatment Wetland – a free water surface flow wetland in northern Alberta. Measuring concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and naphthenic acids (NAs) in influent and effluent of the Kearl Treatment Wetland showed that the combined total mass of all detected PAHs and NA reduced by 54 to 83% and 7.5 to 69%, respectively, as a result of treatment. Concentrations of PAHs and NAs in the aqueous phase of the wetland were measured using polyethylene (PE) and Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS), respectively. The model is shown to be in good agreement with the experimental observations and required only minimal calibration. Application of the model shows that evapotranspiration is not likely to significantly contribute to the removal of OSPW contaminants. Chemical removal relies mainly on transformation in wetland rooting media due to high microbial activity in wetland biofilm. Higher rates of transformation result in greater removal efficiencies for most chemicals. However, highly hydrophobic substances experience low removal efficiencies and appear to be unaffected by changes in transformation rates in the wetland suggesting wetland treatment is not suitable for these substances. Treatment efficiency is sensitive to wetland surface area and flow rate of water through the wetland suggesting intentional wetland design and operation can improve treatment efficiency. Trade-offs in wetland design and operation can be informed by the model.

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

Natural asset management and market-based conservation in Indigenous contexts

Date created: 
2021-04-20
Abstract: 

This research consists of two parts. The first part provides an extended critique of market-based conservation as exemplary of neo-liberal ideology. Natural asset management, an example of market-based conservation, is described as a form of "progressive neo-liberalism," a political formation that consists of a neo-liberal economic practice and a progressive politics of recognition. Market-based conservation is shown to conflict with Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous life practices, posing a potential challenge to the capacity of Indigenous and Settler communities to imagine non-capitalist futures and to realize what Leanne Betasamosake Simpson calls "Indigenous resurgence." The second part of the thesis addresses the challenges faced by the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative in engaging with Indigenous Knowledge in their future work and puts forth multiple recommendations for doing so respectfully, effectively, and ethically.

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

Creating safer cities for salmon: A policy analysis of the Lower Fraser Watershed

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-22
Abstract: 

Rapid urbanization in the Lower Fraser Watershed (LFW) of British Columbia (BC) directly and indirectly degrades the health of aquatic ecosystems that are home to the ecologically, culturally, socially, and economically significant Pacific Salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.). Using the scientific standards of the Salmon-Safe BC urban program as an evaluative framework, this study undertakes a comparative review of government policies and offers a series of recommendations that could facilitate the use of green infrastructure (GI) to mitigate adverse impacts on wild salmon. During consultations with LFW experts, the disparities in policy objectives and requirements were cited as a major barrier to their effective implementation. Addressing these gaps in policy requires development of well-defined statutory foundations and enforcement, and awareness-raising among developers, the public, and politicians to understand GI solutions. This approach can garner the support needed for the use of GI systems to protect wild salmon and ensure long-term watershed health.

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)

Mercury loss from gold rush era placer mines in the Fraser Basin

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-18
Abstract: 

Gold-rush era mercury loss at mine sites in the Fraser Basin was investigated. 109 soil and sediment samples were collected from suspected hotspots on 15 legacy placer mine sites and tested for total mercury. 89% of sites that had clearly discernable signs of mining had at least one test sample that exceeded all control samples taken during the study, suggesting that mercury use was widespread during B.C.’s Fraser and Cariboo gold rushes. An estimated 17,768 to 247,665 kg was lost in the Fraser Basin between 1858 and 1910, calculated by relating mercury loss to different records of gold extraction. Historical records show that 26,749 kg of mercury was shipped to B.C. from California between 1860 and 1883, and mercury imports into Canada between 1882 and 1899 exceeded expected mercury needs for gold amalgamation practices.

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

Sustainable community development through the conceptual lens of productivity

Date created: 
2021-04-27
Abstract: 

Achieving global sustainability requires addressing urban systems since more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. Fundamental changes are needed in local decision-making, urban sustainability planning, implementation, and assessment, and citizen mobilization to move from current piecemeal approaches toward long-lasting and successful implementation of local and global sustainability goals. This research explores the potential of holistic community/urban productivity: “How can the concept, principles, and practices of community productivity help address local sustainability planning, implementation, and assessment, and contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals?” In response, I engaged in critical review of the literature on sustainable community development, urban sustainability, and holistic productivity, developed a conceptual framework for holistic urban productivity, and conducted in-depth case studies with two Canadian cities. While cities are often considered as a component of Anthropocene problems, they also offer unique opportunities and solutions: they have enormous potential not only in terms of economic and labor productivity (diverse and inclusive economy, fostering innovation), but also of social productivity (hubs of research, learning, and sharing) and ecological productivity (ecological function regeneration and efficient use of resources). Holistic urban productivity posits that transforming cities into well-functioning and sustainable systems is possible through inclusive co-production of the commons, resource circularity and regeneration, natural systems restoration, and systemic decision-making. This dissertation contributes to sustainable community development conceptually and empirically by substantiating existing literature and by proposing a new framework with principles, goals, and metrics grounded in long-term whole-systems thinking and regeneration of urban assets and resources. The research findings helped enhance the holistic Urban Productivity Framework and the development of recommendations for municipalities in Canada and beyond and for further research. Cities need to welcome visioning, networking, learning, and connectedness tools for balanced and synergistic optimization of all community elements.

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

Towards regional interdisciplinary green infrastructure in Metro Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-03-10
Abstract: 

Green infrastructure (GI) and nature-based solutions (NbS) have been identified as an important strategy to assist in delivering key infrastructure services in Metro Vancouver, particularly when considering predicted and observed climate change impacts such as increased extreme weather, flooding, sea level rise, and urban heat for the region. Municipalities within Metro Vancouver are increasingly planning and deploying GI, though efforts are largely disjointed and are primarily planned and executed at the local government scale. Recent global initiatives to address biodiversity loss and climate change are recommending more integrated governance that incorporate planning between jurisdictions and disciplines highlighting the potential to achieve greater collective benefits including ecosystem services, biodiversity protection, and human health and wellbeing. However, a transformation to more integrated work is challenged by a variety of complex structural, cultural, and conceptual barriers common of wicked social-ecological problems. This research deployed social innovation techniques to engage professionals and stakeholders within the Metro Vancouver area to identify these barriers and reflect on potential solutions to deploy GI more intentionally and effectively at a regional scale. The results of the research demonstrate a strong preference towards greater integration between professions as well as between municipalities and governmental jurisdictions.

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

Advancing nature-based solutions and green infrastructure: The case of Metropolitan Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-28
Abstract: 

There is a gap in understanding how regional governmental authorities like Metro Vancouver understand the terms nature-based solutions (NbS) and green infrastructure (GI). Without a more fulsome and consistent understanding of how these terms are being applied, decision makers throughout the region lack an understanding of the perceived barriers to and opportunities for advancing NbS and GI uptake and are unable to shift policy. This research was conducted as a continuation of ongoing ACT research into the value of establishing a regional green infrastructure network in Metro Vancouver. Conducted over three months, this project contains the results of over 100 qualitative surveys with Metro Vancouver regional advisory committees. Findings indicate that NbS and GI are distinctly defined, that costs, knowledge gaps, and uncertainty are key barriers, and that framing NbS and GI as climate change strategies is a key opportunity to advance NbS and GI uptake.

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

Improving the uptake of citizen science environmental monitoring data by resource management agencies through co-development of data management plans

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-22
Abstract: 

Environmental monitoring is a critical component of resource management, but monitoring by Resource Management Agencies (RMAs) is often hindered by lack of time and financial resources, resulting in persistent monitoring gaps. Citizen science monitoring collaborations between RMAs and Stewardship Groups is a potential means to address said gaps; however, there are several challenges that must be overcome to realize the full potential of citizen science collaborations. I proposed that many challenges of citizen science are related to data management. I used a case study approach that involved interviewing 42 people from RMAs and Stewardship Groups to determine whether RMAs and Stewardship Groups are currently practicing data management best practices and identify which challenges could likely be addressed by a data management plan. I conclude with recommendations on how to bridge the gap between best practices and current conditions and summarize the results in a Guidebook and Data Management Plan Template.

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

Phenotypic variation in growth, maturity, and movement within genetically homogeneous demersal fish populations and their implications for management

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-12-07
Abstract: 

In this thesis, I quantify the spatial phenotypic variability of two genetically homogeneous demersal fish populations in British Columbia, Canada. In the first chapter, I quantify spatial variation in yelloweye rockfish growth using a Von Bertalanffy Growth model and age-at-maturity in yelloweye rockfish using a binomial logit model. Both growth and age-at-maturity estimates lead to statistically significant variation in fishery reference point estimates with coastwide estimates overestimating spatially explicit reference points by up to 25\%. In chapter 2, I estimate size dependent movement rates for sablefish using a Markov movement model fit to tag release and recovery data. I found that sublegal and legal sized sablefish showed movement patterning consistent with a transboundary stock. Year class contributions of juvenile sablefish do not evenly cover to continental shelf, which could have implications for management.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Sean Cox
Luke Rogers
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.

In search of politically achievable decarbonization pathways for British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-11-27
Abstract: 

British Columbia’s current policy package is insufficient to meet the province’s 2030, 2040, or 2050 greenhouse gas emissions targets. To design and assess different policy pathways to close this emissions gap, I used the CIMS energy-economy model. The first target-achieving pathway emphasized the carbon tax due to its economic efficiency. The second pathway tightened existing regulations with flexible compliance options, including the low carbon fuel standard, the zero-emission vehicles mandate, the clean electricity standard and the clean gas standard. I found that meeting the targets with either policy pathway results in similar technology and energy-use outcomes. This suggests that B.C. can choose to emphasize either carbon pricing, or flexible regulations to close its emissions gap. This range of options enables B.C. policymakers to consider other criteria, notably the political acceptability of their climate policy alternatives.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Mark Jaccard
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.