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

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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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
Duncan Knowler
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Examining risk literacy in a complex decision-making environment: A study of public avalanche bulletins

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-17
Abstract: 

Each winter, approximately 140 individuals die in avalanches in North America and Europe during recreational outings in mountainous backcountry terrain. To help recreationists manage the risks of avalanches, avalanche warning services publish daily bulletins which detail current and forecasted avalanche conditions. The effectiveness of these bulletins depends on whether the risk information they contain is accurately understood and sensibly acted upon by recreationists as they plan and conduct their backcountry trips. This study builds on existing research in risk literacy to present a comprehensive framework for evaluating avalanche bulletin literacy in relation to the needs and practices of different recreational user types. The responses of 3,198 participants to an online survey offer valuable insight on recreationists’ avalanche bulletin literacy skills, how these skills relate to each other, and which background factors, such as avalanche training and backcountry experience, have an influence on how bulletins are comprehended. The results from this research provide actionable recommendations for the design and implementation of future interventions.

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.

Organics and recycling contamination in public spaces: Case study at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby campus

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-01-16
Abstract: 

Universities are important sites of consumption and waste generation. To minimize waste, universities have adopted several policies including the reduction of waste generation and the recycling of waste. Recycling of waste can be impeded by improper sorting of waste (waste contamination), which may lead to operational problems for recycling processing facilities, waste disposal surcharges, and landfilling of the recyclable waste. To study the issue of waste contamination, visual waste audits of six sorting stations were conducted at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby campus. The visual audits were performed to review the overall contents and contaminants in three waste streams: organics, paper, and containers. The major findings were that the average contamination rate was 44% and that the paper and containers streams were often most contaminated with organics and landfill items. This study evaluated SFU’s waste management practices against best practice guidelines for reducing waste contamination and recommends that SFU holds more formal and informal educational events; continues switching disposable food containers to compostable paper products; and encourages the use of reusable containers and cutlery through financial incentives and regulations to ultimately eliminate the use of single use items.

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

Co-constructing rural climate adaptation: Insights from the State of Climate Adaptation and Resilience in the Basin pilot project

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-28
Abstract: 

Communities in rural regions face unique challenges when it comes to climate change adaptation planning. In the Columbia Basin of southeast British Columbia, Canada two communities came together in collaboration with regional institutions to pilot the State of Climate Adaptation and Resilience in the Basin (SoCARB) indicator suite to help monitor and inform climate change adaptation at the local scale. This study explores the process and results of the pilot project, employing an evaluative framework that assesses the SoCARB implementation feasibility and the utility for communities. The study findings highlight several feasibility constraints related to the indicators in terms of data availability, reliability and condition as well as through the fulfillment process in terms of local resource capacity. The study also finds community utility derived from fulfilling SoCARB through supporting community communications and decision-making pertaining to climate change adaptation, supporting funding mobilization and enhancing local knowledge systems. The study concludes with recommendations to improve upon SoCARB to increase uptake of the indicator suite by communities within the Columbia Basin region.

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)

Linking avalanche problem types to modelled weather and snowpack conditions: A pilot study in Glacier National Park, British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-13
Abstract: 

To help amateur recreationists to make better informed decisions about when and where to travel in the backcountry, Canadian avalanche bulletins include structured information on the nature of avalanche problems of concern. Using conditional inference trees, this study explores the relationships between modelled weather and snowpack conditions and avalanche problems identified by forecasters in Glacier Nation Park, British Columbia, during the 2013 to 2018 winter seasons to better understand what makes avalanche forecasters identify individual avalanche problem types and explore possibilities for predicting avalanche problems in data-spare regions using numerical models. The results confirm the influence of the expected weather and snowpack variables and provide useful additional insight into forecaster practices when making decisions about avalanche problems. This study provides an important step for integrating avalanche problems and the Conceptual Model of Avalanche Hazard into existing weather and snowpack model chains and making avalanche bulletins in Canada more consistent.

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. (Planning)

Breaking down barriers to coexistence: Perspectives of North Shore residents on black bears, bear management, and coexistence-related education and policy

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-11
Abstract: 

Conflicts between humans and wildlife are expected to become more frequent as urbanization and human development expand. In urban and suburban regions near wildlife habitat, the presence of human food waste and other anthropogenic attractants can draw potentially dangerous wildlife such as black bears (Ursus americanus) into residential areas, which may result in harm to both humans and wildlife. There is a pressing need to improve management of attractants and reduce negative interactions with wildlife. In this research, conducted in partnership with the North Shore Black Bear Society, I interviewed residents on the North Shore of Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, to investigate their perspectives on black bears and bear management, management of bear attractants, coexistence-related education, and regulatory policy. I make recommendations to improve education programs, management of attractants, bear reporting, and bylaw design and enforcement, and to build social capital and trust in support of these initiatives.

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