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

Receive updates for this collection

Breaking down barriers: Building a gender diverse mining workforce in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-09-19
Abstract: 

In the Columbia Basin-Boundary region of British Columbia (BC), mining has historically been a male dominated sector. Resource communities, such as those found in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region, have traditionally lacked employment opportunities for women. Women choosing to pursue careers in the mining sector can face numerous challenges. This research focussed on ways to break down barriers and build a more gender diverse mining workforce in the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. It also investigated the opportunities available to women in rural resource communities and the challenges they faced if they wanted to work in the mining sector. The research methods included semi-structured interviews, a literature review, and a document analysis. Results showed that in the Kootenay region there may be a shift in mining company culture. More progressive policies and respectful workplace culture seem to be creating a more gender inclusive mining sector. The results also showed significant challenges associated with community supports for women who wanted to enter the Kootenay mining workforce. These community supports included the lack of child care spots, high rental and real estate prices, and the lack of opportunities for further education.

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)

Biodiversity-led green infrastructure in a changing climate

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-26
Abstract: 

The south coast region of British Columbia, and the neighboring Pacific Northwest US states, Oregon and Washington, are dominated by coastal, marine, freshwater, high alpine, and forest ecosystems. This rich biodiversity has significant social, environmental, and economic value, and includes a unique range of flora and fauna. Development of ecological networks at the regional scale is being globally advocated for as a strategy to responding to growing concern regarding the declining biodiversity while building resilience to climate change. The purpose of this report is to investigate the intersection of the global loss of biodiversity and climate change adaptation planning, and specifically answer the question; what is the best management practice for developing green infrastructure networks as a climate change response that also benefits biodiversity? The research is based on publications on green infrastructure and the growing body of work on advancing nature-based solutions to climate change; it was also guided by the expert opinion provided by an interdisciplinary panel with expertise in the field of green infrastructure. The report provides case-study analyses at various scales, the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, Chicago Metropolitan area, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering With Nature program. These case studies highlight ways of identifying and effectively communicating the benefits to biodiversity of green infrastructure implementation, when using an ecosystem and biodiversity perspective. The findings from this study are synthesized into five broad recommendations for governments in the Pacific Northwest region, particularly highlighting the benefits to be achieved through interdisciplinary engagement and coordinated policy-formulation among various governmental agencies.

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

Bioaccumulation of PCBs in Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-14
Abstract: 

Chemical contaminants are a threat to Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). The contribution of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in local sediments to the bioaccumulation of PCBs in SRKW was investigated. The temporal and spatial trends of concentrations of PCBs in sediment, Chinook salmon and SRKW were assessed. The half – lives of PCBs were estimated using a food web bioaccumulation model and the concentrations of PCBs in Chinook salmon and SRKW were estimated using Biota Sediment Accumulation Factors. There were no significant temporal declines in the concentrations of PCBs in sediment, Chinook salmon or SRKW as would be expected given the half – lives. The concentrations of PCBs in sediment could bioaccumulate to the levels observed in SRKW. Some similarities in the PCB congener composition were observed in sediment, salmon and SRKW. The results suggest that local environmental sources of PCBs in the Salish Sea could contribute to the PCBs observed in SRKW.

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

Comparing costs of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and Carbon Tax for decarbonizing the Canadian transportation sector

Date created: 
2019-07-26
Abstract: 

Economists agree that a uniform, economy-wide carbon tax is the lowest cost policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is less agreement on the comparative cost of the most likely efficient regulatory alternative to the carbon tax, that being the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS). This study used the energy-economy-environment model gTech to compare the economic efficiency of the carbon tax and LCFS to decarbonize the Canadian transportation sector. My results suggest the economic efficiency of a carbon tax is about 25% better than the LCFS and that a carbon tax would need to rise to $198/tonne CO2 eq. by 2050 for Canada to achieve a 65% reduction in transportation emissions from 2005 levels by 2050. Considering the likely political difficulty in implementing a high carbon price, a flexible regulation approach might offer an alternative that is slightly less economically efficient but may have a better chance of being implemented.

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

Quantitative examination of terrain perception and its effect on ski run choices in expert heli-ski guides

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-12
Abstract: 

Terrain selection is the primary tool for managing avalanche risk during backcountry travel. While some research has examined revealed preferences in professional ski guides to better understand terrain-use choices, the exclusive focus on physical terrain characteristics pertaining to avalanche hazard has offered an incomplete perspective. I present a new framework that comprehensively captures all decision- relevant terrain characteristics and links these features to decision-making in heli-ski guides. Using survey data from two operations, I employed ordinal logistic regression models to quantitatively describe the relationship between specific terrain features and guide perceptions of accessibility, skiing experience, hazard potential, and “guideability.” A Poisson regression model linking these perceptions to terrain use at one operation clearly illustrates how guide decisions are trade-offs between hazards and operational benefits. The framework provides researchers interested in terrain preferences with a structured approach to describe terrain more completely, and it offers practical benefits to heli-ski operations and guides.

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.

Diversification within reduced fisheries portfolios signals opportunities for adaptation among a coastal Indigenous community

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-08-19
Abstract: 

Understanding social-ecological mechanisms that promote or erode resilience to potential disturbances can inform future adaptation strategies. Such mechanisms can be illuminated among seafood dependent communities by documenting change in fisheries portfolios, the assemblage of seafoods caught and/or consumed by a population of fishers. Here, we collected expert knowledge to assess changes in an Indigenous community’s fisheries portfolios and key drivers of change using semi-directed interviews, a quantitative survey, and network analysis. We focused on fisheries caught and consumed for food, social and ceremonial purposes. We found that while fisheries portfolios decreased in their diversity of seafood types, they also became increasingly connected, revealing that harvesters are diversifying their catch and the community is eating a greater number of seafood types within increasingly depauperate portfolios. These changes were driven by four key social-ecological mechanisms; 1) industrial commercial activities under a centralized governance regime, 2) intergenerational knowledge loss, 3) adaptive learning to new ecological and economic opportunities, and 4) trade in seafood with other Indigenous communities. Our results reveal that resilience principles of diversity and connectivity can operate simultaneously in opposing directions. Documenting changes in fisheries portfolios and local perceptions of key social-ecological drivers can inform locally relevant adaptation strategies to bolster future resilience.

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.

Adaptive capacity creation in the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (Stó:lō Nation, BC) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (White Mountain Apache Tribe, AZ)

Date created: 
2019-07-12
Abstract: 

Indigenous peoples are disproportionately threatened by a changing climate. Research indicates that U.S. Tribes and Canadian Aboriginal Peoples are experiencing detrimental climate change effects. In this context, Indigenous organizations deserve special consideration as community-based pathfinders for collective welfare. I engaged with two Indigenous organizations that share cultural heritage stewardship missions—the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (Stó:lō Nation, BC) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (White Mountain Apache Tribe, AZ)—to investigate perceptions of climate effects and develop recommendations for organizational support of community adaptive capacity. Research methods included engagement with organizational collaborators, semi-structured interviews with organizational representatives and community members, and organizational documents review. Results indicate that community members are experiencing increase in extreme weather events, changes in water quantity and quality, reductions in long-term water and food security, and reduced access to traditional resources and traditional practices. Results identify diverse opportunities to enable adaptation, most of which are case study-specific. Educational services and information dissemination, cultural perpetuation services, and cooperation facilitation comprise organizational services associated with adaptive capacity enhancement in both case studies. I conclude that Indigenous organizations hold significant potential to support communities in adapting to a changing climate. I identify recommendations to boost and actualize this potential.

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)

Advances in integrating urban form and energy-economy modeling for simulating transportation GHG-energy policies

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-26
Abstract: 

Vancouver, British Columbia is one of many leading municipal jurisdictions that has set ambitious GHG emission and renewable energy targets. This analysis uses Vancouver’s Renewable City Strategy as a case study of municipal policy that affects land use, transportation infrastructure, and population densification to assess the impact of urban form and density on transportation GHG emissions, energy use, mode-choice, and travel demand. The CIMS-Urban energy-economy model is used to provide realistic estimations of the effect of municipal policies on technology use and personal mobility behaviour that account for most urban transportation energy demand. The results indicate that improvements to urban form, in the absence of other policies that target vehicle energy efficiency and fuel switching to renewable sources, will not provide sufficient reductions in GHG emissions to achieve ambitious decarbonization targets. Additionally, urban density policy must be accompanied with mixed-use land zoning changes to be effective.

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

Effects of spatial structure on stock assessment estimates of biomass and productivity for Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-06-24
Abstract: 

Ignoring the underlying structure of populations can lead to sub-optimal management of fisheries resources. I examined the influence of spatial population structure assumptions on stock assessment estimates of biomass and productivity for Yelloweye rockfish in British Columbia, Canada. Delay-difference assessment models were fit to different scenarios in which discrete stocks were delineated at successively smaller spatial scales. My results show that, in some scenarios, uncertainty in stock assessment outputs was no greater at finer spatial scales than for the aggregate stock. There was also evidence of differences in stock status at finer scales, suggesting that it might be worthwhile to establish methods for tracking Yelloweye on a finer spatial scale. Comparisons between the aggregated, coast-wide stock, and disaggregated north and south assessments would allow tracking of any differences in responses to management, providing additional certainty regarding management options and potentially lead to improved outcomes for the species.

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.

Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of forest rehabilitation after severe disturbance events in British Columbia: Application of a customized, spatially explicit carbon budget model

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-06-27
Abstract: 

The rehabilitation of damaged forest stands in British Columbia (BC) will alter greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a rate and magnitude that has not yet been quantified. In this study, I customize the Generic Carbon Budget Model for the Canadian Forest Sector to model rehabilitation activities consisting of converting deadwood to harvested wood products and enhancing growth by replanting. I model a region of interior BC that experienced intense wildfires in 2017 and 2018 and extensive mountain pine beetle (MPB) infestation in the mid-2000s. The results indicate that when 312,000 hectares of recently burned forest are targeted, net cumulative GHG emissions relative to the baseline are greater in 2030, 2.6 TgCO2e lower by 2050 or 21 TgCO2e lower by 2070. When forest impacted by MPB are included, cumulative emissions relative to the baseline are greater in 2030, 2050 and 2070, due to the low utilization rate of old beetle-damaged wood.

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