Shared landscape, divergent visions? transboundary environmental management in the Northern Great Plains
Bruyneel, Shannon Marie
The 49th parallel border dividing the Great Plains region has been described since its delimitation as an ‘artificial’ construct, as no natural features distinguish the ‘Canadian’ and ‘American’ portions of the landscape. While the border subjects the landscape to different political, legal, philosophical, and sociocultural regimes on either side, the region’s contemporary and emerging environmental problems span jurisdictional boundaries. Their mitigation requires new forms of environmental management capable of transcending these borders. In this dissertation, I examine the prospects for implementing ecosystem-based approaches to environmental management in the Frenchman River-Bitter Creek (FRBC) subregion of the Saskatchewan-Montana borderland. First, I interrogate the extent to which residents perceive the FRBC region as a ‘borderland’. Then, I examine the range of implications of ecosystem-based management approaches for institutional arrangements, environmental governance, and traditional property regimes and livelihoods in the region. The research methodology includes an extensive literature review; multiple site visits to the FRBC region; a series of semi-structured interviews with employees of government agencies and environmental nongovernmental organizations, and with local agricultural producers; the analysis of historical maps and of selected ecoregional planning documents; and attendance at public meetings in the FRBC region. The research results are presented in a series of four manuscripts. The first manuscript describes perceptions of the border and the borderland through time. The second manuscript examines changes to the border and the relationships across it instigated by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2003 BSE Crisis. The third manuscript examines the extent to which a ‘shared landscape’ transcends the border, and describes how the different regimes across the border create ‘divergent visions’ for landscape and species management. The fourth manuscript investigates the ways in which incorporating a broader range of actors and disciplines could reconceptualize environmental management as an inclusive processes that is cognizant of local history and values. By examining the imbrications of the fields of environmental management, border studies, and political ecology, this research advocates adopting an historical approach to environmental geography research so that contemporary problems may be understood within their local contexts. It emphasizes the importance of including a range of stakeholders in environmental management processes. It identifies the difficulties inherent to adopting ecosystem-based approaches to management, and stresses the practical value of transboundary collaboration for goal setting so that the tenets of ecosystem-based management may be achieved under the existing jurisdictional frameworks in place. It provides significant insights for policy makers, in that it presents residents’ reflections upon their involvement in environmental management processes, and upon the impacts that recent changes to border and national security policies have had upon borderland residents. Moving forward, this research uncovers the need for continued investigations of the impacts of border security policies and legislation on borderland communities and species, for more study of the ability of state agencies to meaningfully incorporate local actors in environmental management, and for investigations of trinational environmental management efforts in the North American Grasslands.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorReed, Maureen G.
CommitteeSlocombe, Scott; Guo, Xulin; Phillipson, Martin; Cunfer, Geoff; Noble, Bram
Copyright DateJuly 2010
Transboundary environmental management