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

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Understanding avalanche problem assessments: A concept mapping study with public avalanche forecasters

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2022-04-20
Supervisor(s): 
Pascal Haegeli
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

Avalanche problems have become a fundamental component of avalanche hazard assessment and communication since the introduction of the Conceptual Model of Avalanche Hazard. However, the observations used to assess them are not explicitly defined and rely largely on avalanche forecasters’ subjective judgements that are prone to noise and bias. This study uses concept mapping to develop a comprehensive understanding of factors influencing operational applications of avalanche problems in public avalanche bulletins in Canada. Interviews with 22 experienced forecasters revealed a diverse range of physical observations and additional considerations. While some of the observed inconsistencies can be attributed to physical differences among forecast regions, others originate from personal perspectives on risk communication considerations, approaches to dealing with uncertainty, and attributes of operational forecast systems. This research offers a starting point for the development of more objective criteria for adding and removing avalanche problems in public bulletins.

Document type: 
Thesis

Function, symbolism or society? Exploring Canadian consumer interest in electric and shared mobility

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2022-02-22
Supervisor(s): 
Jonn Axsen
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)
Abstract: 

Electric and shared mobility offer alternatives to the dominance of privately-owned, fossil fuel powered vehicles. I explore consumer perceptions and motivations regarding these innovations, using survey data from a sample of Canadian (n = 529) adopters and non-adopters of electric vehicles (EVs), car-sharing and shared ride-hailing. I apply a framework with four perception categories: private-functional (e.g., costs and convenience), private-symbolic (e.g., making good impressions), societal-functional (e.g., protecting the environment) and societal-symbolic (e.g., spreading inspiration). Using a theory-based approach, I regressed the four perception categories noted above as predictors of adoption for each innovation. Results show that positive private-functional perceptions are consistent predictors across all three innovations, while private-symbolic perceptions are only associated with EV adoption. Societal-functional and societal-symbolic perceptions have no association with adoption. I also apply a data-based approach using factor analysis to identify unique perception categories. Findings are largely consistent with the first method, with some nuanced insights.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

A national water vision for Canada - Exploring the obstacles and opportunities

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-12-17
Supervisor(s): 
Zafar Adeel
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)
Abstract: 

Canada has one of the largest freshwater supplies in the world, yet it does not have a national level vision or strategy for water. Water-related challenges in Canada, driven by climate change, urbanization, population growth and water pollution, pose a serious threat to Canada’s sustainable development. The absence of a national water vision in Canada has led to fragmented, unsustainable and inadequate, water management across Canada. To better understand the obstacles and opportunities of a national water vision for Canada, this study applied a qualitative approach by interviewing water policy experts from across Canada. The findings of this study are intended to highlight the need for a national water vision and provide recommendation to support the development of a national water vision in Canada.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Assessing late Holocene variability in sea otter prevalence in two areas of coastal British Columbia using archaeological and isotopic data

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2020-12-10
Supervisor(s): 
Anne Salomon
Iain McKechnie
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

The historic extirpation and subsequent recovery of sea otters, a well-recognized keystone predator, has generated far-reaching changes in nearshore ecosystems across the Northeast Pacific. What remains unclear, is how coastal food webs were structured over the Holocene, when people and sea otters co-existed. Mounting archaeological evidence indicates that sea otter populations were lower in the vicinity of human shellfish harvesting sites and that their prevalence varied across regional scales. We used zooarchaeological data, stable isotope analysis, and a social-ecological lens to investigate differences in late Holocene sea otter prevalence in two areas of coastal British Columbia: Barkley Sound and southern Gwaii Haanas. We assessed differences in the isotopic signatures of ancient coastal consumers, sea otter diets, and shellfish prey assemblages to draw inferences on their relative abundance and how nearshore food webs differed in these two areas over the late Holocene. We show that the size and consistency of archaeological shellfish prey, as well as the overall low-trophic level of sea otter diets, suggest that sea otters were reduced or absent in the vicinity of harvesting sites in both southern Gwaii Haanas and Barkley Sound. Moreover, several lines of evidence suggest a greater prevalence of sea otters in southern Gwaii Haanas with coastal consumers showing enriched levels of 13C and 15N and sea otter diets exhibiting a more diverse prey base compared to Barkley Sound. Other lines of evidence were inconclusive or suggested the opposite with no difference in the size of some shellfish between areas and with the relatively greater occurrence of urchins, a preferred sea otter prey, in Gwaii Haanas archaeological deposits. Our findings add to the large body of evidence documenting thousands of years of interactions and coexistence between people and sea otters while revealing a degree of geographic variation in this relationship. This work emphasizes the need for spatially explicit sea otter recovery targets that account for the longstanding role of humans as interacting components of coastal ecosystems and offers insights into practices that could support the coexistence between people, sea otters, and seafood.

Document type: 
Thesis

Aligning stock assessment and harvest strategies in data-limited, multi-species fisheries: A hierarchical modeling approach to BC’s flatfish fishery

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-09-20
Supervisor(s): 
Sean Cox
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Abstract: 

Contemporary fisheries management involves setting quantitative objectives, and establishing decision rules that determine management actions in response to monitoring data. Within that system, feedback harvest strategies are developed via simulation, where various decision rule features are tested against realistic fishery conditions, and are ranked by their relative performance measured against the quantitative fishery objectives. While the adoption of formal harvest strategies has been increasing globally for some time, most contemporary harvest strategies, and their associated stock assessments, continue to be single-species oriented despite a high prevalence of technical interactions in fisheries. Over three research chapters, I use a simulation approach to investigate whether multi-species harvest strategies, based on hierarchical stock assessment models and multi-species reference points that incorporate technical interactions among species, are better suited to the management of data-limited, multi-species fisheries than traditional single-species approaches. First, I use simulation-evaluation to show that the estimation performance of hierarchical multi-stock surplus production models is more robust to declining data quality than a single-stock version of the same model, creating potential for improved information feedbacks in data-limited contexts. Next, I show that TACs set based on hierarchical model estimates of biomass and productivity are better able to maximise yield under all data quantity scenarios, thanks to negatively correlated biases in key management parameters and target harvest rates that acknowledge technical interactions. Finally, I use closed loop simulation to compare the economic and conservation risks of single-species maximum sustainable yield (MSY), multi-species MSY, or maximum economic yield (MEY) harvest strategies. Taken together, the results of my thesis support expanded usage of hierarchical models in fisheries stock assessment and management, which may lead to wider adoption of formal harvest strategies. Further, I show that yields, food security, and/or economic rent can be increased (not always at the same time) by including technical interactions in reference point calculations.

Document type: 
Thesis

An unprincipled relationship: Settler colonialism, recognition, and reconciliation in the principles respecting the government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-23
Supervisor(s): 
Cliff Atleo
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

The contemporary discourse of reconciliation in Canada is imbued with liberal conceptions recognition. A discourse analysis of the Principles respecting the government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples reveals the implicit values and ideologies within the document, shared with other contemporary federal policy changes, that privilege the Canadian constitutional framework and capital accumulation. This analysis applies a critical lens to the Principles, and compares the text with relevant documents, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Supreme Court of Canada title cases, The Principles, as a key plank of the government of Canada’s project of reconciliation, appears to be yet another method of insidiously maintaining colonial relations, and reveals greater continuity with previous overtly assimilationist policies than any substantive change in relations.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Technology and policy pathways to decarbonize Canada's emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-17
Supervisor(s): 
Mark Jaccard
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

The Canadian government has made commitments to transition Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050 but has not addressed the transformative changes needed to decarbonize emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries. This study uses the CIMS energy-economy model to assess policies and technologies that could help Canada become a leader in the production of low carbon primary products and material goods. Two scenarios were created to represent different levels of global climate action and resulted in different domestic policy stringencies to ensure Canadian industries remained competitive globally. Each scenario was assessed in terms of emissions reductions, technological change, and regional decarbonization strategies dependent on resource availability.

Document type: 
Thesis

Improving the Government of Canada’s response to flooding through the inclusion of pertinent economic information

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-04-21
Supervisor(s): 
Zafar Adeel
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

At present, the methods by which costs of flood-related damages are estimated vary significantly across Canada, resulting in widely different and often incomplete quantification of these costs. I use the comprehensive flood-costing methodology that I co-developed in Adeel et al. (2020) to assess the economic impacts of flooding in Canada during 2013 – 2017. This methodology is meant to facilitate flood-planning investments by governments at different levels and allocation of resources to support real-time flood monitoring and response. Public Safety Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, and Natural Resources Canada should standardize and integrate pertinent economic information into existing disaster-response mechanisms, using the methodology proposed herein. Indigenous approaches for evaluating flood damages and losses must also be incorporated. Doing so would standardize the process of post-disaster assessments, facilitate enhancement of local resilience against flood impacts, and improve allocation of resources by the Government of Canada in response to flooding.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

Incorporating Metlakatla First Nation knowledge, perspectives, and values into ecocultural restoration of clam gardens

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-12-03
Supervisor(s): 
Murray Rutherford
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

The field of restoration ecology has historically been guided by the Western science paradigm, and often restoration activities have been conducted without consideration for local Indigenous people and their perspectives, knowledge, and interests. “Ecocultural restoration” offers a robust model for restoration in Indigenous contexts, where social and cultural revitalization goals and Indigenous knowledge can be deliberately incorporated in restoration initiatives. In a research partnership with Metlakatla First Nation, I pursued three research objectives: 1) Investigate the perspectives of Metlakatla clam harvesters on the condition of butter clam populations in Metlakatla Territory; 2) Investigate the perspectives of members of the Metlakatla First Nation on clam gardens and clam garden restoration; and 3) Develop a clam garden decision guide to inform decisions about potential management or restoration actions for clam beaches in Metlakatla Territory. Metlakatla knowledge, perspectives and values were elicited in focus groups and interviews, and structured decision-making was used to explore three pathways (restore an existing clam garden, build a new clam garden, or continue current practices) and their ability to meet Metlakatla goals. Using this analysis, I developed a Clam Garden Decision Guide to inform Metlakatla’s decisions on restoring clam beaches using traditional clam garden practices. Restoring clam gardens is a practical and feasible action that could help to manage and improve the condition and habitat of butter clams in Metlakatla Territory, and guiding principles for effective ecocultural restoration could be used by Metlakatla and other Indigenous communities seeking to implement ecocultural restoration initiatives.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project

How can avalanche bulletins be more useful for recreationists? Exploring three opportunities for improving communication of avalanche hazard information

Author: 
File(s): 
Date created: 
2021-08-17
Supervisor(s): 
Pascal Haegeli
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.
Abstract: 

Avalanche warning services release public avalanche bulletins to help backcountry recreationists develop risk management approaches for winter backcountry trips. To safely recreate in the backcountry, recreationists must be able to understand and apply the avalanche hazard information presented in the avalanche bulletin. The goal of this research was to test how key elements of the avalanche bulletin affect users’ interpretation of the hazard information within the avalanche bulletin, and to determine if modifications to the bulletin could increase its’ useability among recreationists. We conducted a survey with multiple sections to test if presentation of graphic information and interactive exercises can help recreationists apply spatial hazard information, as well has how users perceive the travel and terrain advice section of the bulletin. The results of these studies can be used by avalanche warning services to improve avalanche hazard messaging in their public avalanche bulletins.

Document type: 
Thesis