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

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Valuation and management of mudflats in the Yellow River Delta, China

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-13
Abstract: 

While many coastal wetland valuation studies have been conducted across China, and at different scales, only a few have been conducted in the Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve (YRDNNR). Furthermore, these studies have been dominated by the use of the static valuation method, which does not fully reflect value trade-offs among ecosystem services and land use types when these change over time. Since deltas are characterized by naturally changing ecosystem conditions, a more complete valuation of the coastal wetland ecosystem in the YRDNNR is desirable. Using the Benefit Value Transfer (BVT) method, I take a dynamic approach that will fill the gap in previous research by reflecting the full range of economic trade-offs among land use types and ecosystem services across varying spatial-temporal scales in the YRDNNR. In addition, my study further considers the impacts of water-sediment regulation, where coordinated annual water and sediment flushing events were initiated behind upper river dams in the early 2000s. Together, I consider these influence on the total economic value (TEV) of the YRDNNR from 2000 to 2015. The study suggests that the water-sediment regulation had a positive impact on the TEV of the YRDNNR. Such information will help the local government and resource managers to understand how this dynamic delta system is changing over time and in response to management intervention. Ultimately, it is hoped this research will lead to solutions to enhance ecosystem services.

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

Who wants zero-emissions vehicles and why? Assessing the Mainstream market potential in Canada using stated response methods

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-26
Abstract: 

Extensive deployment of zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) is likely essential for Canada to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs). To effectively promote ZEVs, it is critical to understand the factors that influence consumer interest in ZEVs. In this study, I surveyed 2,123 Canadians that intend to buy new vehicles to develop insights into “latent demand” among consumers, (that is, what demand would be if the ZEVs were fully available in the market), including ZEV-related preferences and possible underlying motivations for interest. Specifically, I analyze results from two stated response methods: design exercises and a stated choice experiment. First, the design exercises reveal that 21% of respondents are interested in ZEVs (a proxy for latent demand), where interest is primarily in PHEVs, followed by BEVs and HFCVs. ZEV-interested respondents tend to be younger and have higher education and income levels, and are also unique in measures of lifestyle engagement, values, and environmental concern. The design exercises also revealed that HFCV-interested respondents are distinct from PHEV- and BEV-interested respondents in their values and possible underlying motivations. Using data from the stated choice experiment, I estimated a latent class discrete choice model, and identified five unique respondent segments. Thirty-six percent of respondents fall probabilistically into segments which have strong preferences for ZEVs, 20% of respondents are undecided about ZEVs but remain open to them, and 44% of respondents prefer conventionally fueled vehicles. The latent class model indicates that respondents who prefer ZEVs are younger and have higher education levels, and have greater environmental concern, more environmental-oriented lifestyles, and stronger pro-social values. Results from this study indicate that financial subsidies and home recharging could be effective in increasing latent demand. Policy makers would be wise to consider the range of preferences and possible motives for ZEV interest when designing ZEV-supportive policy.

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

Citizen acceptance of unconventional fossil fuels in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

Citizen acceptance can represent a significant barrier to the implementation of energy projects, which is increasingly relevant as unconventional fossil fuel production is forecasted to expand in Canada. I use a nationally representative survey sample of the Canadian population (n=1407) to examine citizen acceptance of five prominent unconventional fossil fuel developments: oil sands, Northern Gateway Pipeline, Trans Mountain Pipeline, Energy East Pipeline, and hydraulic fracturing. Across Canada, oil sands and pipeline developments tend to have lower acceptance than renewable energy and conventional oil, but more acceptance than nuclear and coal. Among Canadian regions, acceptance for unconventional fossil fuel developments is consistently higher among respondents in Alberta (the province where most fossil fuel development occurs), who are more likely to perceive economic benefits and less likely to perceive environmental and social costs. Opposition tends to be higher among respondents in British Columbia and Quebec. Acceptance levels are similar for oil sands and oil sands pipelines within all Canadian regions, while hydraulic fracturing has significantly lower acceptance in each region. Otherwise, regression analyses indicate consistent patterns of fossil fuel development acceptance across the full sample: biospheric and altruistic values and environmental concern predict higher acceptance, and egoistic and traditional values and trust in oil and gas companies predict lower acceptance. Results provide a number of insights to policymakers and stakeholders, including the strong regional differences in development acceptance, and how citizens perceive oil sands related projects quite differently from hydraulic fracturing development.

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.

Reduced water motion enhances organic carbon stocks in temperate eelgrass meadows

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-01-26
Abstract: 

Organic carbon (OC) storage in coastal vegetated habitats (blue carbon) is increasingly being considered in carbon financing and ecosystem-based management. Seagrass meadows have potential to sequester and store significant amounts of carbon, primarily belowground in the sediments beneath them. However, existing estimates are primarily from tropical and sub-tropical regions. On the northwest coast of North America, the magnitude and variability of seagrass carbon stocks, as well as local drivers of variability remain rare. We collected sediment cores from six eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows on the coast of British Columbia, Canada, to quantify sedimentary OC stocks and accumulation rates. The top 20cm of sediments exhibited a 30-fold difference in OC stocks across meadows (185 - 5545 g OC m-2). Stocks in meadow interiors (1392 ± 928 SD g OC m-2) were 1.23 times greater than those along meadow edges (1130 ± 698 SD g OC m-2) and 1.42 times greater than adjacent unvegetated sediments (977.10 ± 516 SD g OC m-2). The top 20cm of sediment represented 21 to 74 years of accumulation, and OC accumulation rates ranged from 13 to 50 g OC m-2 year-1. Isotopic analysis of sediments (δ13C = 19.43%0 ± 3.25 SD) revealed that OC is largely derived from non-seagrass sources (terrestrial, benthic microalgae and/or macroalgae). OC stocks in the top 5 cm were most strongly influenced by water motion (Relative Variable Importance RVI = 0.81), relative to seagrass structural complexity (RVI = 0.21), and sediment size (RVI= 0.22). Specifically, higher OC stocks were associated with lower water motion, which may facilitate greater deposition of organic carbon particles and reduce rates of erosion and resuspension. This study highlights variability in carbon stocks at local scales with profound implications for estimating variability in carbon stocks at regional and global scales, typically unaccounted for in seagrass blue carbon estimates. To help account for this variability, we demonstrate that reduced water motion can indicate high potential for blue carbon storage in temperate soft sediment habitats.

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

Collecting Baseline Socio-Economic Data for Socio-Economic Impact Assessment: The Metlakatla Membership Census

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-03
Abstract: 

Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SIA) is a tool to assess the social, economic, health, and cultural impacts of a proposed plan or activity. Developing good baseline information is a crucial step in SIA because changes to valued social components may be more easily identified and assessed when they are compared to a baseline. For SIAs in Aboriginal communities, baseline socio-economic data are often unavailable or deficient. I examine community surveys as a tool to collect Aboriginal community-specific baseline data, through a case study of the Metlakatla Membership Census, a census-style survey designed and implemented in collaboration with the Metlakatla First Nation. I investigate the development, design, and administration of the census in 2015 and 2016, the first two years in which it was conducted. I discuss elements of the census that were successful, identify limitations and lessons learned, and make recommendations for similar initiatives in other settings.

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)

Carbon Stocks and Accumulation Rates in Salt Marshes of the Pacific Coast of Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-08
Abstract: 

We estimated carbon stocks and carbon accumulation rates using 34 sediment cores collected from seven salt marshes within the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada (49.2° N, 125.80° W). Carbon stocks averaged 80.6 ± 43.8 Mg C ha-1 between the seven salt marshes, and carbon accumulation rates averaged 146 ± 102 g C m-2 yr -1. These rates are comparable to those found in salt marshes further south along the Pacific coast of North America (32.5-38.2° N) and at similar latitudes in Eastern Canada and Northern Europe (43.6-55.5° N). The seven Clayoquot Sound salt marshes currently accumulate carbon at a rate of 54.28 Mg C yr-1 over an area of 46.94 ha, 87 % of which occurs in the high marsh zone. On a per-hectare basis, Clayoquot Sound salt marsh soils accumulate carbon at least one order of magnitude more quickly than the average of global boreal forest soils. This carbon accumulation capacity provides a climate mitigation co-benefit when conserving for other salt marsh ecosystem services.

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

Indigenous governance tools for exerting sovereignty over traditional territory: A case study of mineral development in the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc territory

Date created: 
2017-12-11
Abstract: 

With an increasingly political and adversarial environment developing in British Columbian resource sectors, this research critiques the usefulness of tools that can be employed by Indigenous governments to assert sovereignty over decisions regarding resource development on their territories. The purpose of this research is to consider the different legal, socio-political, supra regulatory and self-governance tools available in the case of the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation as they make management decisions over mineral development in their traditional territory located in the interior of British Columbia. This insight is particularly important for Indigenous communities in Canada that are considering their options regarding resource development as a path to self-autonomy and self-governance over their territory, resources and economies. As Canada moves towards a relationship built on the precept of reconciliation, it is imperative that resource development decision-making processes increase community capacity, agency, and self-governance, while incorporating indigenous traditions, values and laws.

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

A Comparative Analysis of Surface Winds in the Mid-Continental United States of America During Severe Droughts in the 1950s and 2010s.

Date created: 
2017-08-31
Abstract: 

The Mid-Continental United States of America (USA) has experienced several exceptional droughts, which are frequently linked with increased dust storms in response to reduced vegetation and intensified surface wind speeds. This investigation examined surface wind speed behavior in the Mid-Continental USA between 1954 and 2016 to assess differences in wind speeds between severe drought and wetter periods and determine what climatic conditions may have influenced these changes. Results show that droughts periods had significantly higher extreme surface wind speeds, and the 1950s Southwest drought had significantly higher surface wind speeds compared to the 2010s drought. Composite patterns of sea-level pressure, temperature, precipitation, and Palmer Drought Severity Index suggest that synoptic weather conditions reinforce dry and windy conditions during drought vs wetter years. However, synoptic conditions were largely similar between the two droughts, suggesting that land surface management practices may have been responsible for decreased surface winds during the 2010s drought.

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

Evaluating Decision-Making Practices of the National Energy Board in the Environmental Assessment Joint Review Process: A Case Study of the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project

Date created: 
2017-12-03
Abstract: 

The objective of this research was to evaluate the decision-making process employed to review major pipeline projects. An evaluative framework for evaluating the decision-making process was developed, and applied to the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel’s final report on the Northern Gateway Project. Results suggest the process failed to ensure all project effects and evidence were considered, and all conflicts in evidence were resolved by decision-makers. Recommendations to improve the review process include more explicit decision-making criteria, new and improved guidance material, and additional training for decision-makers in administering good decision-making practices.

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)

Evaluation of the Regulatory Review Process for Pipeline Expansion in Canada: A Case Study of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-25
Abstract: 

A good review process ensures government agencies approve projects which are in the public's interest and reject those that are not. Recently, the Canadian review process for pipelines has undergone scrutiny with numerous studies pointing to major flaws. This report presents a case study evaluation of the regulatory review and approval process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The Project review process led by the National Energy Board is evaluated relative to nine best practices based on a survey of intervenors in the hearings. The main conclusion is that the review process does not meet any of the best practices and is deficient. Even so, intervenors largely agreed on how it could be improved. The results are also compared to a similar study evaluating the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Process, and the conclusions attained were similar. This report aims to contribute to improving the Canadian review process.

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)