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

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Evaluating British Columbia’s economic policies for liquefied natural gas development

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-30
Abstract: 

British Columbia is attempting to develop a large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector to export natural gas to Asia, with capital investments estimated to be as high as $40 billion for a single LNG plant. An alleged benefit of LNG development is increased revenue for the BC provincial government of over $27 billion. Our research investigates potential fiscal benefits for BC from LNG and the processes that were followed when developing the new LNG-related economic policies. Research methods include an analysis of relevant documents, interviews with key actors, and quantitative modeling of LNG revenue impacts. Results show that the primary objective of the fiscal mechanisms is to ensure that the LNG industry is developed in BC and maximizing the return to government is a secondary objective. Secondly, the process of developing the LNG policies did not follow best practices from a public policy perspective. Thirdly, the government’s projected incremental revenue from an LNG export industry is significantly exaggerated.

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

Indigenous community preferences for food and ceremonial fishery outcomes: Quantifying the importance of harvestable biomass and spatial distribution via a discrete choice experiment

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-17
Abstract: 

Fisheries are inherently complex, with important interactions among biological dynamics, the environment, and the socio-economic systems in which they are embedded. Managing fisheries for both short- and long-term sustainability requires taking a management-oriented paradigm focused on meeting goals and objectives that are important and acceptable to all fisheries participants. Indigenous communities regularly feel that they are under-represented in fisheries decision-making, and that their cultural and livelihood objectives are ignored. Governments want to integrate Indigenous criteria into their definition of fisheries management success, but to date there is a lack of tools and processes to help Indigenous communities quantify their objectives in a way that can effectively inform the DFO process. Using a case study on the West Coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI), this project examines how a simple survey with a discrete choice experiment (DCE) can be used to help quantify Indigenous objectives. I worked with the Nuu-chah-nulth Indigenous community to design and implement a DCE to determine their preferences for the outcomes of a food and ceremonial fishery. The DCE provided quantitative information to show positive preferences for increased layers of spawn on bough and quality of spawning area, and negative preferences for increasing number of spawning areas and increasing travel time. Additionally, we found evidence of a shifting preference baseline in the Nuu-chah-nulth community, highlighting a loss of traditional Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge caused by low herring abundances along the WCVI. DCE results are supported by qualitative comments from the Nuu-chah-nulth community, making us confident that the DCE was able to effectively represent community preferences. Overall, we found that DCE’s can help Indigenous communities translate their general fishery goals into specific measureable objectives, allowing their goals and values to be better represented and included in fisheries management decision-making.

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

Public willingness to pay for improvements in ecosystem services and landowner willingness to accept for wetlands conservation: An assessment of benefit transfer validity and reliability using choice experiments in several Canadian watersheds

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-07
Abstract: 

Benefit-cost analyses are often used to evaluate the economic efficiency of proposed policies or projects. Such analyses require analysts to estimate the benefits and costs in monetary terms of any changes related to the policy being analyzed, including to the environment (e.g., changes in water or air quality). However, estimating these monetary values can be difficult since prices are often not available due to market failure. As such, several non-market valuation techniques have been developed for use in assessing these monetary values, including original research techniques, such as choice experiments, and benefit transfer which applies existing non-market values estimated using original research techniques to other contexts (e.g., locations). Several studies have evaluated the validity and reliability of benefit transfer in a variety of contexts. In this thesis, I contribute to this literature by assessing transfers in contexts not yet evaluated. In doing so, I use choice experiments to investigate landowner preferences for wetlands conservation in two Ontario watersheds and elicit the general public’s willingness to pay values for changes in ecosystem services in four Canadian watersheds. This research resulted in four papers. The first paper, motivated by the loss of wetlands in Southern Ontario, involves assessing the preferences and willingness to accept (WTA) of farm and non-farm landowners for enrolling their land in wetlands conservation programs. Though preferences and values are heterogeneous, many landowners are willing to enrol and at moderate cost. Using data from this paper, in the second and third papers I evaluate the validity and reliability of transfers of WTA and predicted program participation market shares, respectively. Results suggest that transfers of WTA are similarly valid and reliable to transfers of willingness to pay, while transfers of predicted participation market shares are considerably more valid and reliable than a parallel assessment of transfers of WTA. Finally, using data from the general public survey I evaluate alternatives for reconciling quantitative choice experiment attributes with differing levels for benefit transfer. A key finding of this research is that transfers rooted in “relative” preferences are more valid and reliable than transfers rooted in “absolute” preferences.

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

Identifying operation-specific ski run classes and their acceptability for skiing from avalanche risk management decisions in mechanized skiing

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-05
Abstract: 

While mountain guides in mechanized skiing operations use a well-established terrain selection process to manage the physical risk from avalanches, the relationship between the acceptability of ski runs for guest skiing and the terrain character is complex. First, this thesis presents a new approach for deriving ski run types from daily terrain assessment records of two operations in British Columbia, Canada. It uses a combination of self-organizing maps and hierarchical clustering to identify groups of runs that have been assessed similarly in the past and organizes them into operation-specific run hierarchies. The thesis then uses this foundation and applies a general linear mixed effects model to explore the relationship between acceptable skiing terrain (i.e., status open) and avalanche hazard conditions. Expressing this relationship numerically provides an important step towards the development of meaningful decision aids, which can assist commercial operations to manage their avalanche risk more effectively and efficiently.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Pascal Haegeli
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.R.M.

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
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
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): 
Supervisor(s): 
Evelyn Pinkerton
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)