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

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Social inclusion in impact assessment: A case study in the mining context of Cusco, Peru

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-26
Abstract: 

Mining projects can have significant social, economic and environmental impacts on local communities. The increasing number and scale of mining projects has resulted in increasing social resistance by local communities, who demand more meaningful involvement in the decision-making process, equitable benefits and greater protection from negative impacts. This research studies the intersection of impact assessment and sustainable community development within resource development contexts. This paper develops a new framework, the Integrated Inclusive Impact Framework, in order to co-create, with communities, a more holistic and inclusive system to identify and measure the impacts of resource development projects on community well-being, as well as test the effectiveness and appropriateness of participatory engagement methods, specifically for rural contexts in developing countries. This research employs a qualitative study design, conducting case studies in the Department of Cusco, Peru, in two Campesino communities, and collects data through household surveys, semi-structures and informal interviews and focus groups. This research finds that the by conducting impact assessment in a more inclusive and integrated way, it reveals more complex and dynamic interactions between community actors, as well as varied priorities. The proposed framework was successful in identifying and visualizing the community as a heterogeneous actor and was able to capture that there are groups, opinions and values that are not typically integrated in impact assessment. The findings demonstrate that through flexible participatory engagement methods, the co-creation of indicators, and recognizing and integrating local, traditional and experiential knowledge, diverse community perspectives for impact assessment can be more adequately and accurately integrated. This paper concludes by recommending engaging with and beyond official leaders, building trust and practicing reciprocity with communities in order to facilitate more meaningful and inclusive engagement processes and robust impact assessments.

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

Development and application of an In Vivo test for estimating biotransformation rate constants and bioconcentration factors of hydrophobic organic chemicals in fish

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-10-04
Abstract: 

Bioconcentration factors (BCFs) are the most commonly used metric by regulatory agencies to assess the bioaccumulation of chemicals in fish. However, due to logistical and economic constraints to laboratory testing, there is limited empirical BCF data. In addition, there are no accepted in vivo methods to measure biotransformation rates of hydrophobic organic chemicals (HOCs) in fish. This study presents a method for measuring in vivo biotransformation rate constants and BCFs of HOCs in aqueous bioconcentration tests. BCF tests were conducted for the test chemicals; methoxychlor, pyrene, cyclohexyl salicylate and 4-n-nonylphenol using a sorbent phase as a dosing reservoir. A co-exposure using non-biotransformed reference chemicals was used to derive biotransformation rates of the test chemicals. The tests were successful for measuring depuration and biotransformation rate constants (kT, kM), and BCFs in fish that will contribute empirical data for evaluating predictive models (e.g., in vitro to in vivo extrapolation; IVIVE) and in vitro kMs.

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

Evaluating harvest strategies that account for fish population structure: an integrative review of key uncertainties and future research needs

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-20
Abstract: 

Fisheries management decisions are guided by the outcomes from stock assessment models, which typically assume that fish stocks represent single homogenous populations. However, species normally exhibit complex spatial structure. Using outputs from spatially aggregated stock assessment models to inform harvest strategies in spatially structured fisheries could lead to management failure and erosion of biocomplexity. This paper summarizes how spatial population structure has been addressed in the fisheries literature and explores options for developing harvest strategies that address fish population spatial structure. I also highlight common pitfalls and data needs associated with spatial modeling and harvest strategies. Continued investment in spatial and finer-scale data collection and associated spatial analysis are necessary to develop effective spatial harvest strategies. I conclude that developing spatial modelling and harvest strategies for fishery species is an important step to address the complex nature of marine population structure.

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

Probing the climate target and climate policy implications of abundant natural gas in North America

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-02
Abstract: 

The past decade witnessed breakthroughs in the extraction of shale and other unconventional natural gas sources, substantially increasing the estimated low-cost supply of natural gas in North America, particularly in the United States. This thesis is an empirical investigation of whether, and to what extent, a falling cost of plentiful natural gas is a benefit or a problem for fighting climate change by exploring the implications of abundant gas on various aspects of climate policy. On the one hand, natural gas is less-emissions intensive than coal and conventional crude oil, and so substitution to natural gas from these sources can potentially serve as a mitigation tool. On the other hand, lower cost gas is only a partial de-carbonization measure relative to near-zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) technologies like nuclear, carbon capture and storage, and renewable energy. I examined these and other considerations regarding natural gas’ interplay with climate policy using the CIMS hybrid energy-economy model. Some key focus areas included: What are the near-term implications of abundant gas on GHG emissions? What are the implications over a longer period of transition, such as to 2050? How might abundant gas play a key role in specific sectors? What impact might abundant gas have on a staged implementation of policy, with differing levels of policy stringency by sector? Some key findings concerning the gas revolution’s interplay with climate policy are that: Abundant natural gas results in only slight reductions in near-term emissions relative to scarce gas scenarios, although near-term reductions for the power sector are significant. Abundant natural gas makes it harder to achieve deep de-carbonization by 2050 relative to scenarios with scarce gas. Abundant natural gas worsens emissions leakage from the power sector to end use sectors when the former is subject to stringent policy while the latter is not. Abundant natural gas may make it easier to achieve emissions reductions in sectors such as heavy trucking, provided it is coupled with certain complementary fuels like renewable natural gas and climate policy. Otherwise it could result in higher emissions; and Abundant natural gas, combined with unanticipated policy, can achieve deep de-carbonization by 2050. However, realizing this outcome necessitates higher carbon prices as the unanticipated policy creates additional costs when coupled with abundant natural gas.

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

Temperature, size, and harvest method drive recovery in an Indigenous kelp fishery

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-24
Abstract: 

Identifying how to harvest populations in a way that maintains ecological resilience is a fundamental issue in applied ecology. Fortunately, resources users around the world have gathered knowledge of these strategies over millennia. Today, within the context of new market opportunities and changing environmental conditions, communities are being faced with the conservation and management challenge of adapting traditional harvest systems within shifting social-ecological conditions. Egregia menziesii, an ecologically and culturally important intertidal kelp, has been harvested on the coast of British Columbia by the Haíɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) First Nation for generations. In light of an emerging commercial opportunity for a small-scale harvest, we worked in collaboration with Heiltsuk managers to examine effects of a traditional Egregia harvest. Using Indigenous knowledge interviews and a harvest experiment, we found no detectable effect of harvest treatment (25% frond removal) on Egregia recovery, and that pre-harvest size, site-level seawater temperature and wave exposure were the most important drivers of kelp recovery from harvest. Additionally, we found parallel understandings of these drivers within Heiltsuk Indigenous knowledge. Overall, we found that traditional Egregia harvest practices reflect the ecological conditions that confer resilience, and specifically that harvest practices rooted in Indigenous knowledge promote recovery. Lastly, we provide an example of how successful co-produced research can produce locally legitimate and relevant research outcomes to inform resource management problems in a changing world.

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

Adapting to the reintroduction of the sea otter: a case study with the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-07
Abstract: 

Sea otters became extirpated in BC by the early 1900s, but 89 were reintroduced to the northwest coast of Vancouver Island between 1969-1972, and as of 2013 there are now over 5,500 sea otters on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Sea otters are voracious predators, weighing as much as 100 pounds and consuming as much as 25% of their body weight every day, and are in direct competition with First Nations for both culturally and economically important sea food like sea urchins, crab, clams and abalone. Although First Nations would like to hunt sea otters to protect important beaches and reefs this is currently illegal because sea otters are a protected species. This research examined the current sea otter management regime as well as alternative management options to explore the idea of managing sea otters using a small-scale harvest. This research also explored kelp harvesting as an economic opportunity to help mitigate the loss of revenue from clams

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

Modeling the risks and damages from a “potential” invasive plant species: yellow starthistle in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-14
Abstract: 

Yellow Starthistle (Centaurea Solstitialis) is an annual invasive weed introduced to Western United States from the Mediterranean region. It favours sunny areas and responds aggressively to human disturbances such as road development, firebreaks and animal grazing. It also benefits from longer growing seasons and increased levels of CO2 disproportionately more than native plants. Yellow starthistle (YST) is not yet known to occur in Canada but has been sighted in Washington and northern Idaho. I use a bioeconomic model to produce five study cases of the effects of YST on ranching in BC: (i) a baseline scenario without YST; (ii) a counterfactual scenario where YST is allowed to invade unimpeded; (iii) with the stimulating effects of climate change; (iv) a case where the model is augmented by a hazard function to mimic YST’s invasion risk, (v) and the same scenario augmented by climate change. I use an exponential probability distribution for invasion that has been derived from statistical analyses of YST biological characteristics and time to invasion of a representative sample of herbaceous invasives in North America. A representative ranching operation is used as a study site with rangelands being the dominant type of land-use. Producers are assumed to maximise their profit subject to the function of YST spread and the probability of a YST invasion. I found that YST could have significant impacts on ranch operations: severe reductions in yearly profits (-62%) in case of unimpeded invasion, -80% with the climate change catalysis. I found that persistent populations occupying between 19% and 25% of a representative ranch could be expected. Hazard-augmented model showed that the risk of invasion could be internalised through relatively moderate reductions in stocking rate (-19%) and more significant reductions stocking rate in case of climate change-catalysed invasion (-51%) from the business as usual scenario. I analyse these numbers in more detail through sensitivity studies by concentrating on long-term profitability. I conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of our research for addressing invading species risks prior to invasion, beginning with the cost-effectiveness advantages of early detection.

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.

Best practices for Impact Benefit Agreements: A case study of the Mary River Project

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-27
Abstract: 

The purpose of this project is to identify the best practices for negotiating, implementing, and writing Impact Benefit Agreements, organize those best practices into an evaluation framework, and use this framework to evaluate a case study. Best practices were identified in twenty-seven academic articles, books, reports, and guides compiled through a literature review. These best practices became forty-six sub-criteria, organized under eleven themes called criteria. Each is ranked and scored using indicator questions. The evaluation results are used to identify strengths and weaknesses of the Impact Benefit Agreement and its surrounding context. In this study, the Mary River Project Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement was evaluated as a case study. The Mary River Project is an iron ore mining project located on Baffin Island in Nunavut. This case received an overall best practices adherence score of 84%, which shows that the project has many strengths but much room for improvement. Several recommendations for the agreement and surrounding context were identified using the evaluation results.

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)

Ancient clam gardens magnify bivalve production by moderating temperature and enhancing sediment carbonate

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-27
Abstract: 

Humans have been developing management systems to support resilient food production through social-ecological feedbacks for millennia. On the Northwest Coast of North America, Indigenous peoples have sustained a diversity of fisheries through management innovations including designated access rights, harvest restrictions, and enhancement strategies. To elucidate how clam gardens, intertidal rock-walled terraces constructed by people in the Late Holocene, increased bivalve production, we quantified environmental variables and transplanted clams (Leukoma staminea) in present-day clam gardens and non-walled control beaches on the coast of western Canada. We found that higher bivalve biomass and densities in clam gardens could be attributed to the effect of terracing on ambient temperature and elevated sediment carbonate associated with crushed shell. These same variables drove detectable differences in transplanted clam growth rates. This study illuminates ecological mechanisms underlying this ancient innovation that could be used to enhance food security and confer resilience to impending oceanic changes.

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

Simulating the role of recharging and refuelling infrastructure in the uptake of zero emission vehicles in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-11
Abstract: 

Although widespread uptake of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) (including battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) could help Canada achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions targets, many barriers currently prevent their proliferation in the vehicle market. Deployment of charging and refuelling infrastructure is widely claimed to support ZEV uptake; but studies have differed in their estimates regarding the extent to which ZEV infrastructure deployment might increase ZEV sales. A particular limitation among such studies is a lack of empirical basis, and limited representation of the various charging and refuelling options. Using survey data collected from 1,884 Canadian new vehicle-buying households in 2017, I develop a version of a behaviourally realistic market forecasting model, the Respondent-based Preferences and Constraints model (REPAC), to investigate the extent to which infrastructure deployment can boost ZEV sales in Canada. I simulate the impacts of increasing the availability of home, work, public destination, and highway charging access on plug-in electric vehicles sales, and the impacts of increasing hydrogen refuelling stations on hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sales. Results suggest that new ZEV market share in Canada will not substantially benefit from increased infrastructure. Even when electric vehicle charging access and hydrogen fueling access are simulated to reach “universally” available levels by 2030, new ZEV market share does not rise by more than 1.5 percentage points above the business as usual trajectory. On the other hand, REPAC simulates ZEV market share rising as high as 30% with strong ZEV-supportive policies, even without the addition of charging or refueling infrastructure above business as usual levels. These findings suggest that to achieve ambitious long-term ZEV sale targets, a comprehensive suite of policies is likely required, particularly including those that induce increased availability of ZEVs.

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