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

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

Informing indigenous marine protection in Gitga'at territory

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-22
Abstract: 

Many Indigenous communities in the world have established protected areas to assert control over and protect areas in their traditional territories. Canadian policymakers are also examining how such Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) may advance marine conservation goals. However, the experience with IPCAs in marine settings in Canada is limited. This research project examines the marine conservation efforts of the Gitga’at First Nation on the west coast of Canada as a case study. The Gitga’at people are exploring the possibility of a marine IPCA in their traditional territory. I conducted interviews to investigate Gitga’at marine conservation values and management preferences, and used the results to develop a draft management plan for a prospective IPCA for the Gitga’at. Based on the case study, I identify challenges and make recommendations for the Gitga’at and other Indigenous communities to consider in the establishment of marine IPCAs.

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. (Planning)

The extent, density, and biomass carbon of eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia

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

Seagrass habitats have recently been characterized by their ability to capture and store organic carbon, known as ‘blue carbon.’ However, the geospatial extent and carbon storage capacity of these habitats are largely unknown on the Pacific Coast of Canada. This research quantified the areal extent of three eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in southern Clayoquot Sound on the Pacific Coast of Canada using remote sensing technologies and assessed the above- and belowground biomass (AGB; BGB) and living carbon content of the intertidal and subtidal zones. AGB estimates ranged from 11 ± 4 to 92 ± 51 g DW m-2, which translated into carbon stocks of 4 ± 1 to 33 ± 18 g C m-2 and are consistent with global estimates for Z. marina. BGB estimates were much lower than values for Z. marina in other regions (45 - 285 g DW m-2), ranging from 5 ± 4 g DW m-2 (2 ± 1 g C m-2) to 26 ± 20 g DW m-2 (9 ± 7 g C m-2). Low BGB in Clayoquot Sound is likely a response to sub-optimal environmental conditions, resulting in the eelgrass’ shallow root system. The intertidal zone of two of our meadows, Robert Point (22,414 m2) and Grice Bay (186,468 m2), made up approximately 70% of their total meadow area (31,886 m2 and 261,667 m2, respectively), whereas the subtidal dominated at Kennedy Cove (4,318 m2), making up 80% of the meadow (5,343 m2). Mapping the intertidal and subtidal portions of each meadow allowed for biomass and living carbon estimates to be scaled up to their respective zone. After accounting for the size of each meadow, the more marine-influenced meadows, Robert Point and Kennedy Cove, had significantly higher density, biomass, and living carbon content values. Given the scarcity of data available on the extent of eelgrass meadows in Canada, regionally specific quantification of these habitats’ areal extent, biomass, and carbon storage dynamics are required to accurately assess seagrasses climate change mitigation potential.

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. (Planning)

Advancing abalone conservation by revealing change in predator-prey interactions and social-ecological resilience through time

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-14
Abstract: 

Species conservation remains challenged by paucity of long-term data on how human use and environmental factors have shaped species abundance and trends. Further, as humanity pushes against limits of the biosphere, sustainable environmental governance could benefit from understanding factors that conferred resilience to enduring coupled social-ecological systems (SESs). Along Canada’s west coast, northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) and coastal indigenous peoples (First Nations) have co-evolved for millennia. Yet within a half-century, commercial overfishing under centralized fisheries management caused closure of all abalone fisheries and subsequent listing of abalone as endangered. While loss of this cultural keystone species profoundly affected coastal First Nations and recent abalone recovery fuels interest in restoring traditional fisheries, concurrent recovery of a key predator, sea otters (Enhydra lutris), poses a conservation conundrum. I aim to advance abalone conservation by illuminating key changes in components and interactions within this SES through time. To understand ecological effects of sea otter recovery on abalone, I conducted field surveys in three regions of coastal British Columbia, representing four decades of sea otter occupation and varying environmental conditions. While sea otters caused abalone density decline, indirect effects improved habitat conditions and altered abalone behaviour and distribution, thereby mediating predation effects. Next, I synthesized multiple knowledge sources to demonstrate how ecological extirpation of sea otters caused social-ecological regime shifts allowing abalone to obtain higher historical abundances than were likely prior to European contact. This shifted baseline and continuing declines amplified perceptions of abalone extinction risk. However, if abalone are not truly endangered, society is morally obligated to conserve abalone and restore sustainable traditional fisheries for reasons of social justice. Finally, I explored how fisheries sustainability might be achieved using traditional knowledge of past governance and management protocols. Although polycentric institutions for abalone recovery today might support future co-management, key issues of power asymmetries, trust and funding remain barriers to address. By broadening our understanding of the abalone SES in western Canada, my thesis provides insights into how weaving indigenous knowledge of past resource management with contemporary western science can inform ecologically sustainable and socially just approaches to coastal fisheries today.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Field observation of sunflower star hunting northern abalone and red sea urchins on Haida Gwaii, BC
Lab observations of sunflower star engulfing a hatchery-reared northern abalone
Supervisor(s): 
Anne K Salomon
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Sustainability planning and assessment: Identifying and evaluating community capital in the district of North Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-06-12
Abstract: 

In order to achieve global sustainability targets, there is a need for concerted effort at local and global levels. To date, there has been no consensus regarding the tools that should be used for sustainability assessment at the local level. While sustainability assessment and monitoring tools that are easy to understand and agreed-upon have been proposed, implementation has been challenged by the complexity of local planning, with its diverse stakeholders as well as a myriad of social, economic, and environmental factors and departmental silos. In this mixed methods research project, an opportunity was taken to operationalize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in a local setting. One multi-criteria analysis sustainability assessment approach, the Community Capital Framework and associated tool, the Community Capital Scan, aligned well with the Sustainable Development Goals and subsequently was tested as a sustainability assessment tool by a Canadian community, the District of North Vancouver. The implementation strategy, the challenges and successes, and the results of the sustainability assessment are described. Findings will be useful for others committed to contributing locally to global sustainability goals.

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

Linking Community-Based Monitoring to Water Policy in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-14
Abstract: 

This paper examines the relationships between Community-Based Water Monitoring (CBM) and government-led water initiatives. Drawing on a cross-Canada survey, the paper explores the reasons why communities undertake CBM, the monitoring protocols they follow, and the extent to which CBM program members feel their findings are incorporated into formal (i.e., government-led) decision-making processes. We find that despite following rigorous and recognized protocols, fewer than half of CBM organizations report that their data is being used to inform water policy at any level of government, and that respondents report higher rates of cooperation and data-sharing between CBM organizations themselves than between CBM organizations and their respective governments. This finding is significant, because governments at all levels continue to express support for CBM. We explore the barriers between CBM data collection and government policy, and suggest that structural barriers include lack of multi-year funding, inconsistent protocols, and poor communication. More broadly, we argue that the distinction between formal and informal programming is unclear, and addressing known CBM challenges will rely on a change in perception: CBM cannot simply be a less expensive alternative to government-driven data collection.

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)

Factors associated with angling license purchase frequency and fishing site choice for BC anglers

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-28
Abstract: 

A substantial proportion of anglers in British Columbia (BC) are infrequent, meaning that they do not purchase a license every year. Maintaining fishing license sales is an important objective of fisheries management and leads to stable revenue for conservation and management. To sustain participation, we must better understand the characteristics, license-purchasing habits and fishing site preferences of infrequent anglers, as well as differences between infrequent and frequent anglers. We employed a survey distributed to random BC anglers stratified by participation; a follow-up survey was used to assess non-response bias. The results showed that age, fishing skills and centrality of fishing to lifestyle, number of other anglers in household and usual time of license-purchasing influenced the anglers’ likelihood to be frequent license-purchasers. Choice modeling identified the differences in fishing site preferences (e.g., expected fish size, amenities) between the two angler groups and revealed what management actions would increase overall angler satisfaction.

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. (Planning)