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

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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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
Murray Rutherford
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Dietary biotransformation and bioaccumulation of cyclic siloxanes in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-11-29
Abstract: 

Cyclic volatile methyl siloxanes (cVMS) are commonly used down-the-drain manufactured substances that were assessed for their bioaccumulation (B) potential in Canada and the European Union, which resulted in different regulations. Discrepancies between regulations resulted in part from the unique intrinsic characteristics of cVMS, their log KOW values, which suggests that cVMS partition out of water and into lipids. Modeled simulations and laboratory-based bioconcentration (BCF) values exceed CEPA 1999 B criteria, while field-based analysis of biomagnification factors (BMFs) can produce values that are below CEPA 1999’s B threshold (BCF and/or BMF < 5000) and resulted in biodilution. The current research addressed discrepancies between B values by exploring in vivo dietary somatic biotransformation rate constants (kBM) of two cVMS, octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4) and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5), in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The kBMs were derived using a co-exposure of non-metabolized reference chemicals. Plotting the concentration of fish at time (CF) shows significant but slow somatic depuration rate constants (kBT, d-1) for D4 and D5 (0.045 ± 0.018 (SE); 0.042 ± 0.008 (SE)) and kBM (d-1) (0.039 ± 0.019 (SE); 0.037 ± 0.009 (SE)). The CF also produced significant, but relatively slow dietary uptake absorption efficiencies (ED) for D4 and D5 (0.322 ± 0.034 (SE); 0.079 ± 0.008 (SE)). CF was entered into an Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion Fish Bioaccumulation Calculator (ADME-B) to predict the biotransformation rate constant in the gut (kGM,d-1), resulting in relatively fast rate constants of 1.26 ± 0.61 (SE) and 6.46 ± 1.12 (SE) d-1 for D4 and D5. Results indicate that the exposure route effects the proportional contribution of somatic (φBM) and gut (φGM) biotransformation rate constants on the depuration of D4 and D5. For instance, dietary uptake results in high φGMs for D4 and D5 (61.34 and 93.02%). Furthermore, the ADME-B calculator indicates that D4 and D5 BCF values are below B criteria (2864.6 ± 1112.1 (SE); 2289.6  532.5 (SE)). Results are consistent with measured environmental concentrations that show biodilution.

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

Citizen perceptions of electric vehicle policy in Canada: Examining awareness, support, trust, and regional differences

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-10-16
Abstract: 

This study examines citizens’ perceptions of five policies aimed at increasing electric vehicle (EV) uptake (carbon tax, purchase incentive and three regulations) and explores the role of citizen trust. Through a survey of Canadian citizens (n=1552), I assess: 1) awareness of EV policies, 2) support and opposition of policies, 3) trust in institutions (competence, integrity and value similarity), and 4) significant factors of support. I find that respondents are mostly unaware of EV policies, and are frequently confused about where policies are in place. Policy support varies considerably by policy type and stringency. The majority of respondents support incentives and most regulations, whereas support is considerably lower for a carbon tax. Regression analyses indicate that trust in the federal government’s competence is associated with support for all EV policies, whereas other forms of trust (integrity-based and value similarity), and trust in the provincial government, are not consistently significant.

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

Exploring the effectiveness of avalanche risk communication: A qualitative study of avalanche bulletin use among backcountry recreationists

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-26
Abstract: 

Warning backcountry recreationists about the risks from snow avalanches is a particularly challenging communication task due to the complexity of the phenomenon, the voluntary and repeated nature of the exposure, the diversity of recreational activities, the range in individual’s risk management skills, and the need for self-determined risk management decision-making in an environment with rare corrective feedback. To better understand the effectiveness of daily avalanche bulletins for improving recreationists’ safety in the backcountry, a research team conducted 46 semi-structured interviews with an inclusive sample of recreationists to shed light onto how travel decisions are made and how avalanche information is incorporated. The present study combines a qualitative applied thematic analysis with quantitative statistical techniques (topic models, simple correspondence analysis, and multinomial logistic regression) to detect, examine, and classify patterns in recreationists’ bulletin use into an Avalanche Bulletin User Typology. The resulting classification system establishes an evidence-based foundation for improving avalanche risk communication that offers actionable recommendations to enhance recreationists’ ability to conceptualize and manage avalanche risk with bulletin products.

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

How ENGOs in British Columbia navigate Indigenous rights and title: A look at the past and a present day case study

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-16
Abstract: 

The past decade across Turtle Island (North America) has seen a powerful overarching movement I will refer to as pipeline resistance. Environmental and Indigenous groups have been networking and volunteering vast resources to halt the development of oil pipelines that threaten Indigenous lands and waters—areas that Settlers care about too. Through a literature review, I look at how environmental activism, Indigenous rights and litigation have intersected over time—with a specific focus on British Columbia. I explore how environmental activists have treated Indigenous groups in the past and investigate if colonial courts have begun recognizing Indigenous rights more—giving Indigenous Peoples some legal ability to halt problematic projects. Since it has been implied by pipeline advocates that such ability is the only reason environmentalists have been trying to partner with Indigenous Nations in the anti-pipeline fight, my research investigates if these accusations have merit. To analyze how environmentalists navigate collaboration with Indigenous groups in the pipeline resistance movement, I surveyed 16 Settler employees of environmental groups (ENGOs) opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline project expansion (TMX) in BC. Survey participants were asked about their motives, perceptions, views on decolonization and ENGO protocols for engaging with local Indigenous communities. I also drew upon my own experience in the anti-pipeline movement. What I have found is that, while some organizations do attempt to partner with Indigenous groups in the anti-TMX movement for strategic reasons, the collaboration brought on by pipeline resistance appears to be teaching Settler activists about various Indigenous Nations, their rights and title, colonialism and more. This education appears to be far deeper than anything taught in schools and is perhaps fostering a heightened respect for Indigenous Peoples among Settler activists.

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

Paleoecological indicators and carbon dynamics in lake sediments in western Canada and potential implications for protected area carbon management in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-10-10
Abstract: 

Lake sediment from 18 lakes across western Canada was studied in regards to carbon accumulation rate over the last 150 years. Carbon (C) accumulation rate was found to be 3.8 times greater on average in the modern time period (1980-2010) when compared to the historical time period (1830-1860). The largest C accumulation rate change was found in the Boreal Plains ecozone. Maximum lake depth, lake geometry ratio, and temperature related climate variables (e.g., number of ice free days) were significantly correlated to C accumulation rate. There was not a statistically significant difference between lake C accumulation rate between protected and non-protected lakes. To better understand how climate controlled millennial forces of vegetation composition and fire related to carbon accumulation, paleo proxies of pollen and charcoal were investigated on two longer sediment cores in adjacent biogeoclimatic zones of the Kootenay Valley of British Columbia. Broad-scale climatic controls are interpreted as the major influence on high fire frequency and carbon accumulation rate in the dry and hot xerothermic period (11,500-8,000 cal. yrs BP). The Kootenay Valley is expected to return to xerothermic-like climate conditions within the next century. The conversation pertaining to how protected areas would manage for carbon in the future began with a workshop exploring how to frame carbon management. Experts were then interviewed and ecological integrity measures were determined to be the best place for carbon to act as either a co-benefit or as a separate ecological integrity measure. A survey of protected area manager perspectives on the importance of each ecological integrity measure to carbon management was created. Vegetation-related ecological integrity measures were found to have the most importance to co-benefit carbon management. Active management in protected areas should use paleo proxies to find reference biogeoclimatic zones and restoration efforts should focus on retaining carbon on the landscape through maintenance of vegetation-related ecological integrity measures like prescribed burning.

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