CAPACITY FOR CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ASSESSMENT IN THE LOWER FRASER RIVER BASIN, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
ABSTRACT Watersheds in Canada are under increasing stress as a result of the cumulating environmental effects from anthropogenic activities. Cumulative effects assessment (CEA) is a potentially useful tool in environmental assessment (EA) for addressing the stresses faced in watersheds, but is typically done on a project-by-project basis. This project-based approach to CEA is not sufficient to address the entirety of effects from multiple stressors occurring across a broad spatial and temporal scale. As a result, there is now a general consensus that CEA must extend from the project to a more regional scale, such as the watershed. The problem however, is that, while the science behind watershed CEA is progressing, the appropriate institutional arrangements to sustain watershed CEA have not been addressed. This research attempts to work towards identifying the existing capacity for watershed-based CEA (W-CEA) through document review, a focus group, semi-structured interviews and qualitative data analysis. Twenty-six interview participants, including various levels of government, ENGO representatives, private consultants and academics, were queried on such capacity using eight interview themes, which are the requisites that are identified as necessary for W-CEA. The results of the research revealed that the existing capacity in the Lower Fraser River Basin could not accommodate the implementation of W-CEA. The eight requisites were ‘graded’ to better show individual capacities of each within the Lower Fraser. The inadequacies of these requisites, and thus, inadequate capacity for W-CEA in the Lower Fraser, was based primarily on the fact that CEA is not the primary tool for watershed management, a lack of leadership in the watershed, and fragmented political geography. The existing framework for watershed management and CEA in Lower Fraser River Basin would have to undergo significant change before W-CEA could successfully be implemented.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentGeography and Planning
CommitteePatrick, Robert; Aitken, Alec; Connolly, Sean
Copyright DateNovember 2011
Watershed Management, Cumulative Effects Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Watershed Cumulative Effects Assessment