John Innes

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.


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I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Restitution of Mapuche lands : challenges and enabling conditions for adaptation to a changing context (2023)

Mapuche people are claiming rights to their ancestral territorial spaces, including the ownership of land and control over the territory, in order to exercise the right to set their development priorities and to have the natural resources to ensure their existence as a people. However, settlers and commercial companies have legal access to the same lands and, therefore, can develop the land by the means they consider best for their own interests. The state has supported unfair practices by providing subsidies and militarizing claimed spaces (e.g., using heavy weaponry, armoured vehicles, and tear gas). On top of this, Mapuche communities, like other Indigenous communities around the globe, are experiencing the impacts of climate change (e.g., drought and forest fires combined with the impacts of introduced forest plantations).The main purpose of this study is to understand the process that Mapuche communities experience in their quest for land restitution in a constantly changing context. To accomplish this aim, I approached the issue through a specific research question: How do Mapuche people navigate the challenges and opportunities provided by a rapidly changing context to secure land restitution and their cultural survival?An inductive qualitative case study approach was adopted, informed by Indigenous methodology and constructive grounded theory. Data-collection methods were tailored to respect Indigenous protocols, values, and beliefs important to the Mapuche communities.I show that the different understandings of the land respond to an ontological conflict that affects the efforts of Mapuche communities to rebuild their ancestral territories. While navigating CONADI’s land restitution process, communities witness how settlers, seeing the land as a commodity, take advantage of the process and inflate land prices. When prices are too high, communities are asked to find alternative estates.The lack of access to capital and knowledge to maintain the control of access gained through the CONADI makes tenure security insufficient to drive climate change mitigation. If the law does not bundle land restitution and financial support for the communities to establish living conditions and conserve or restore their native forests, it will be hard for communities to avoid subscribing to environmentally detrimental agreements.

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Changes in the livelihoods of people in protected areas in China in the past 40 years:based on Jiuzhaigou and Shennongjia Protected Areas (2020)

The use of Protected areas (PAs) is an effective approach for conservation worldwide. The support of local communities has significant influence on the success of conservation areas. This research provides further insights into the livelihoods of people living in PAs. It examines the perspectives of local villagers on the establishment of PAs and the development of associated tourism industries. I used a case study approach to conduct an in-depth examination of two PAs in China. I conducted 100 semi-structured interviews with local elites, villagers, and government officials to identify changes experienced by the villagers, equity issues, and governance problems. Broadly, I offer insights into the complex social-ecological changes being experienced by local communities in two PAs in China. Specifically, I demonstrate that at both locations, livelihoods have been limited to some extent by the establishment of the PAs. Alternative livelihood options were critical for local people, and needed to have strong connections with policies aimed at improving livelihoods, not only focusing on income, but also accounting for improvements in social, human, physical and natural aspects of their livelihoods. I also explore the perceptions of equity change over time and across development stages so that I can assess how the changes depend on local economic activities and policy implementation. I demonstrate that changes in distribution equity are more readily recognized than changes in participation equity or recognition equity. In practice, the central government policy to promote equity in China is severely compromised when it is implemented by local governments. I show that the addition of key events into the analysis provides important information on equity changes and, based on this, the equity analysis framework is modified. Finally, I demonstrate that the livelihoods of local peoples are closely related to local government structure and institutional arrangements. In the case of the Jiuzhaigou Biosphere Reserve (JBR), the government structure and institutional arrangements did not encourage livelihood improvements. A clear distribution of management authority and responsibility among different government departments is needed to solve the conflicts that have arisen.

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On criminalized livelihoods and community forestry: a case study of traditional forest use by tribal communities in South Gujarat, India (2016)

In India, the Indian Forest Acts of 1865 and 1878 transferred the ownership of all forest land and its resources to the colonial government. These were replaced by the Indian Forest Act of 1927, currently in force. Successive legislations continued to alienate resources from communities. This inadvertently criminalized the traditional forest-based livelihoods and cultural practices of local tribal communities. Tribal communities continue to follow their local traditions, but lack the voice to protect their culture against non-local interventions. This denial of participation to tribal communities in managing forest resources has led to their alienation from the very resource they depend upon. The Joint Forest Management (JFM) programme was promulgated in 1991 to increase local forest dwellers’ participation in forest management. The Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) attempted to address historical injustice meted to forest dependent communities. These policy level initiatives, de jure, could be viewed as an effort to partially restore the primacy of forests in the livelihoods of forest dwelling communities. However, JFM and the FRA continue to be subservient to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, and no substantial change is visible. Using a case-study approach and purposive sampling, four villages in Gujarat State were selected for the study. Data was collected in 1995-97 and 2011 on people’s livelihoods, cultural practices, forest access and restrictions, awareness and participation in governmental, and community forestry activities. These data were compared to ascertain changes and continuity. Results showed that despite JFM, the basic governance of forest management remains unchanged. Forest related cultural practices and livelihoods of local tribal communities continue to be marginalized and criminalized.The thesis argues that the restorative efforts of JFM and FRA fail to adequately uphold human rights of tribal communities. It further offers an analysis of the impact of such provisions on the well-being of the tribal community.Based on a concept of criminalization and empirical findings, the aspect of illegitimate illegality (legitimate activities labelled as illegal) is teased out from corruption. Using elements of Aboriginal Forestry, the Classification of Decriminalization framework is developed to recognize and to respect tribal people’s cultural identities. 

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Study of Communication in Joint Forest Management in India (2016)

Joint Forest Management (JFM) - i.e. forests jointly managed by the Forest Department and local community - has been operative across all States of India for more than two decades now. Despite its successes in expanding to over one third of the forest area, challenges in managing the forest jointly exist between these two unequal partners. Apart from issues of governance, the lack of communication between them has been reason for many of the on-going conflicts and issues. The present study explores the communication mechanisms in current practices in JFM, their effectiveness and challenges. The perception of community and the Forest Department about communication challenges, emerging technology, and possible solutions are also explored. A model is developed to help practitioners and planners to assess communication situation and to design appropriate mechanisms. To study the communication challenges and their relation to power and technology, I surveyed three village communities, and interviewed a range of Forest Department officers from Gujarat. I also surveyed senior Indian Forest Service officers from 19 States to understand their perception of the communication challenges. This data helped me to develop a model to understand communication in a culturally embedded governance situation. Results of the study indicate the lack of adequate mechanisms to understand the governance-communication linkages with consequential silhouetted approaches that fail to consider the impacts and linkages. The proposed model suggests that communication in governance should be planned taking into account ‘skillholders’ from ‘civil experts’ and ‘conventional experts’ across a variety of stages and dimensions. While community depends on the Forest Department for information and legitimacy for its various activities, the Department’s approach has been haphazard and ambiguous leaving much improvement to be desired. Senior forest officers acknowledge the situation and suggest a number of solutions for improving communication, which ranges from improved relationships to delivery mechanism. The research suggests that there is too much focus on certain areas for communication, such as policy implementation, without adequate emphasis on the process of policy making, leading to lack of clarity on a number of processes and procedures.

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The use of airborne LIDAR to assess tree species and forest biomass in subtropical forests (2016)

The subtropical forest biome accounts for approximately a quarter of the area of China and is particularly important for local economies, and for maintaining biodiversity and the carbon balance of forest ecosystems. Despite their importance, there is still considerable uncertainty about the characterization and spatial distribution of tree species, as well as the carbon budgets of these forests, many of which have been altered by anthropogenic activities. Remote sensing has the potential to provide quantitative, spatially explicit information for mapping and monitoring forest ecosystems. It is also a cost-effective tool to provide temporally uniform and “wall-to-wall” observations over time. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is an active remote sensing laser technology that provides an advantage over most other remote sensing technologies in its ability to provide detailed three-dimensional information of forest canopy structure, which is particularly useful for studying forest biophysical and structural properties. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate novel approaches for using and examining the effectiveness of LiDAR technologies, in order to classify tree species and estimate forest biomass and dynamics, across a study site within the subtropical region of southeast China. Specifically, airborne LiDAR was evaluated for its ability to: (i) discriminate tree species using small-footprint full-waveform LiDAR metrics; (ii) estimate forest biomass components by discrete-return and full-waveform LiDAR metrics; (iii) spatially extrapolate the estimation of forest biomass components, and (iv) predict and map biomass dynamics using multi-temporal LiDAR data. The results of this dissertation confirm that LiDAR-based approaches can make significant contributions to analyze the structure, composition and distribution of tree species across the study site, and provide effective methodologies and techniques for developing high resolution, spatially explicit estimations of forest biomass (and its dynamics). These methods have important applications to sustainable forest management, forest carbon cycling studies and carbon accounting projects.

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Chain of custody certification adoption, innovation, and change management in the British Columbia value-added wood products sector (2015)

This study investigated the chain of custody certification adoption, the state of innovation, and change management in the BC value-added wood products sector. To achieve this goal, a survey was conducted in the fall of 2013 to determine attitudes, motivations, and barriers of a selection of value-added wood products manufacturers with regard to their current and potential participation in CoC certification. In addition, the innovativeness of the firms, as well as the change management attributes using the ADKAR (awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement) model, were assessed. The study revealed that 41% of the respondents were certified, with remanufacturers having the highest adoption level. Another 13% of the companies were interested in becoming certified in the next 5 years and the remaining 46% were not certified and were not interested in certification citing a range of barriers including lack of customer demand, high costs, and a lack of price premiums. Certified and interested companies seemed to be ambivalent about the motivations regarding certification. For certified companies, improved corporate image and participation in LEED building projects were the two biggest motivations for adopting certification. However, for interested companies, the ability to command price premiums was the top motivation. To assess value-added wood products industry practices with respect to innovativeness, an indirect self-evaluation scale was used to assess the propensity to create and (or) adopt new products, processes and business systems. Respondents rated themselves more innovative with respect to business systems innovation as compared to product and process innovations. The two-cluster solution in cluster analysis found that companies in the cluster with the greater proportion of certified companies had more positive views about innovativeness although no statistically significant relationship was found.The ADKAR model for change management revealed that the ability to implement the change was a significant barrier for value-added wood products manufacturers in adoption of CoC certification. Suggestions made for policymaking and change management include strategies for the creation of awareness, desire and knowledge for CoC certification. Others include providing resources to enhance the ability of companies to adopt certification, and reinforcing the change through recognitions and rewards systems.

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Improved Decision-Making Processes for the Transfrontier Conservation Areas of Southern Africa (2015)

The focus of this research is environmental governance in Africa, explored through the lens of trans-border conservation initiatives. I used the embedded case study approach to dissect the political, socio-economic and ecosystem management aspects of decision making in the establishment and management of protected areas across national boundaries, focusing on two transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) in southern Africa, the Greater Limpopo and the Greater Mapungubwe transfrontier conservation areas. This is a qualitative study using mixed methods to collect data, including 93 semi-structured interviews with current and potential decision makers from every possible level, 16 questionnaires, ten mental model workshops, several meetings with local municipalities and other decision-making platforms, and an in-depth scrutiny of relevant policies and treaty documents. Interviewees provided inputs into a value system framework based on a compilation of attributes from each of the ecosystem, socio-economic and governance literature, to produce an average score for each of the two case study areas. The results indicated highly disjunctive approaches among countries forming part of the TFCAs, leading to many undesirable feedback loops. The decision-making processes of each country component of the two TFCAs were then analyzed separately, using a “governance” capability maturity model to determine the effectiveness of current management practices. A “collaboration” maturity model was used to identify gaps in the information sharing, decision making and patterns of interaction among the different stakeholders of each of the two TFCAs, indicating institutional and decision-making flaws in the current system. Some recommendations are provided to improve these in order to overcome current failures in the three dimensions of a TFCA.

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Ecosystem responses to climate variability, disturbances and environmental factors in Southwest Yukon of Canada (2014)

The south-western part of the Yukon Territory of Canada has experienced an unprecedented spruce bark beetle outbreak and frequent forest fires beyond the historical trends. Accumulating evidence also suggests that the southwest Yukon has experienced the impacts of recent climate change: warmer winters and warmer and drier summers over the past 15 years have contributed to the severe spruce bark beetle infestation, affecting white spruce on approximately 340,000 hectares of the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in southwest Yukon. The mortality caused by the bark beetle outbreak has also increased the risk of wildfire severity and frequency in the region. I studied the impacts of climate variability, disturbances and environmental factors on stand structure, forest regeneration and vegetation diversity within the CATT. The research was conducted in close collaboration with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Resources of the Yukon Government and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Government. Data were collected in the summer of 2008 from the forested landscape of the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory. I found that stand structure varied significantly by edaphic and topographical factors with higher forest productivity at lower elevation and on lower slope positions where there was a higher soil moisture regime. Overall stand productivity and vegetation diversity were higher on warmer aspects and in mixed stands. Although regeneration of all tree species was higher in burned areas, broadleaved species prevailed in these areas, indicating that persistent disturbances associated with the predicted increase in temperatures in the region may promote broadleaved species. A higher diversity was found in moderately disturbed open areas with higher mean temperature and precipitation. Salvage harvested areas had the highest diversity and highest composition of broealeaved trees. The undisturbed mixed stands had the ecosystem characteristics that would closely meet the ecological goals of the Strategic Forest Management Plan (2004) in the region. The vegetation distribution were closely linked with topographical, climatic and disturbance regime in the study area, which could be a basis for vegetation classification, which is still lacking in the study area.

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Informing and supporting climate change adaptation in British Columbia's forests through monitoring (2014)

Given the large uncertainties associated with climate change, regular and systematic measurement of various aspects of the natural environment is the primary means for understanding what changes are actually taking place. This research is focused on the development of a strategy for monitoring the biophysical attributes of British Columbia’s forest and rangelands in order to supply the information needed to bring climate change adaptation considerations into decision-making in the Province. A framework of indicators for monitoring the impacts of climate change was developed through iterative, bottom-up processes involving both expert and end-user participation. The former involved interviews with key experts and an indicator development workshop attended by 58 delegates from across the Province. The latter involved a web-based survey designed to better identify the indicator framework’s target audience as well as their key information needs and management questions with regard to climate change adaptation. The resultant framework identifies seventeen indicators of varying importance for monitoring in light of climate change. I developed approaches to measuring some of the indicators and analyzed the capacity of current monitoring and inventory programs to support their evaluation. Where possible, the data available to support the indicators was tested in south eastern British Columbia. This was designed to assess the capacity of the existing data sources to meet decision makers’ climate change adaptation needs. The results of these tests showed that, while there are some relatively good data sources that can be used to support climate change adaptation in forests and rangelands, there are some indicators for which there is a paucity of data. Through this research I have been successful in developing a solid foundation for increasing the information available to incorporate climate change adaptation considerations into British Columbia’s forest and range management. My research also offers an example to other sectors, countries and regions who are seeking to use their data to track climate change and better understand its impacts.

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Development of forest aesthetic indicators in sustainable forest management standards (2012)

Forest aesthetic indicators are an important aspect of the social component of sustainable forest management (SFM) standards. However, SFM standards have few aesthetic indicators, especially at an international level. A possible reason for this is that public awareness of forest aesthetic values has often been regarded as unscientific or even contradictory to the ecological knowledge of forestry experts and that aesthetic values vary according to the cultural backgrounds of the individuals involved in any assessment. In response to the current lack of aesthetic indicators in SFM standards, several questions have been raised: (1) Does the public think forest aesthetic values are important and to what degree in terms of SFM, (2) Is there any consensus on the aesthetic values among the public and between the public and forestry experts, (3) Are there any differences in perspectives on the absence of aesthetic considerations in SFM standards between the experts participating in the creation and revision of SFM C&I and experts in the fields of forest aesthetics, and (4) How can aesthetic values be effectively and efficiently assessed? In order to address these questions, three surveys were conducted involving the public and experts in four countries. The survey revealed no significant differences in priorities for forest aesthetic values amongst selected groups of public respondents in Korea, China, Japan and Canada. However, significant differences existed between forestry experts and the public. Forest aesthetic values were rated as relatively important by the general public, but both types of experts generally rated the importance of aesthetics higher than did the public. Three major reasons for the lack of aesthetic indicators were provided by the SFM and aesthetic experts: a lack of aesthetic training amongst those designing criteria and indicators; a bias against aesthetics, which are often considered to be highly subjective; and the general omission of people with knowledge of aesthetics during the development of SFM standards. Ten possible aesthetic indicators that could be used in future SFM schemes were developed in this study. The indicators presented here and the direct involvement of aesthetic experts would improve the ability of current SFM frameworks to balance effectively social, environmental and economic values.

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Integrated Dual Filter Framework for Forest Management Planning: A Case Study in the Southwest Yukon (2012)

Forest management planning is increasingly difficult due to the growing numbers of values and interests associated with forests, with climatic and socio-economic change adding further complexity. Forest planning hence can be described as a wicked problem. It cannot be tamed by linear deterministic approaches, but rather requires a more holistic approach. This study illustrated the development and testing of a planning and decision-support framework, the Integrated Dual Filter (IDF), for forest management. The IDF consists of two Filters, an Environmental and a Social Filter, and three States: Environmental representing the no-management landscape that can be used in planning as a ‗natural baseline‘ for the Desired State (an engineered landscape); the Management State represents a managed landscape to explore tactical aspects of planning and assess the feasibility of the Desired State. The IDF was tested using empirical data from the Champagne and Aishihik Traditional Territory (CATT), southwest Yukon. The CATT has recently experienced a spruce bark beetle outbreak affecting over 85% of its forests. The governance response was the development of the Strategic Forest Management Plan (SFMP). The SFMP was the starting point for the IDF-Social Filter to extract important values during working group meetings in the Yukon, deploying a ratings table to develop, judge and rank a hierarchy of criteria and sub-features for the Analytic Hierarchy Process. This resulted in five alternative forest management strategies for the long-term: manage forests for the timber industry; for multiple values and use; for fire risk reduction; for wildlife; and for the carbon industry. The IDF-Environmental Filter revealed that white spruce will still dominate the landscape after 200 years; that fire will remain an important disturbance to maintain a heterogeneous landscape; and that climate change will likely have no direct effect on tree species in the overall landscape but will be important at the site level. The conceptual simplicity of the IDF makes it a valuable decision-making support system to identify system properties, constraints and concerns (by using the Filters) in order to simulate and project the planning landscape (using the States) into the future. It allows an extension of the existing planning horizon from 20 years for the CATT SFMP to >100 years; this will better inform management, especially under consideration of climate change.

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An examination of challenges and issues facing sustainable forest management and forest certification in China (2011)

This study investigated the challenges facing the adoption of sustainable forest management (SFM) and forest certification in China. To achieve this goal, the perceptions of four influential direct and indirect stakeholders were examined to reveal the awareness, understanding, interest, motivation, and barriers to adopting SFM and forest certification. The four stakeholders consisted of Chinese small-scale forest farmers who have received small forest land from the collectives through the new forest tenure reforms, Chinese market officials working for forestry property markets, Chinese wood products manufacturers, and Canadian wood products retailers. In addition, the new forest tenure reforms and their supporting mechanisms, including forestry property markets, were assessed in terms of their impacts on the promotion of SFM and certification in China. The study revealed general low levels of awareness and understanding about SFM and forest certification amongst various stakeholders in China, with forest farmers having particularly low awareness. Several challenges to the adoption of SFM and forest certification in the period before the new forest tenure reforms were identified by the small-scale forest farmers, including insecure and unclear forest tenure, inconsistent forest policies, inadequate finances, under-developed infrastructure and transport system, and lack of efficient knowledge and technical transfer. Market officials were found to have limited knowledge of SFM and forest certification but their role in educating forest farmers and promoting SFM and certification is particularly important, as government support is considered to be critical to the early and rapid uptake of SFM and certification in China. Chinese manufacturers expressed immense interest in forest certification despite the identified barriers. From their perspectives, the biggest barrier was the lack of market demand for certified wood products. Canadian retailers were chosen as a substitute of Chinese retailers to gain insights into how a more advanced market for certified wood products might evolve, and how the demand might evolve in China. The new forest tenure reforms and forestry property markets are likely to overcome many of the challenges and enable forest farmers to adopt SFM and certification. That said, the widespread adoption of SFM and certification amongst various stakeholders has a long way to go.

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Community forests for forest communities: An examination of power imbalances, challenges and goals in Brazil and Mexico (2011)

Community forestry can deliver economic, socio-cultural and ecological benefits to local communities. Case studies from around the world have shown this, yet results have also been mixed, as many initiatives have failed to deliver their promises. Criticisms have arisen that community forestry remains dominated by decision-making by offsite experts, replication of models deemed successful in other contexts, and the spread of forestry practices that have been developed for the large-scale forest industry.This research provides further insights into community forestry from the perspective of the local forest user. A case study approach was used for an in-depth examination of six community forestry initiatives in Brazil and Mexico, assessing the current status of community forestry and suggesting a path forward based on local needs and wants. Qualitative content analysis of semi-structured interviews with community members, and elements of grounded theory methodology, were used to: assess the amount of forest management authority communities currently have; create a framework outlining the challenges facing communities in managing their forests; and, identify community-defined goals and processes for community forestry initiatives.Results showed that, despite the rhetoric of decentralization, communities continue to work within tightly regulated frameworks of forest management with limited decision-making power for forest product commercialization. Within this limited power structure, communities face interrelated challenges in both the development and operationalization phases of forestry initiatives, requiring a holistic strategy of intervention to encourage the maintenance of a profitable and self-sufficient enterprise. In identifying community-defined goals, this research found that other livelihood strategies, particularly agricultural practices, need to be considered when designing forestry interventions that are overly focused on timber production. This exercise also underlined the need to promote site-specific models of intervention that take into account the variety of contexts and community interests.A better understanding of local perspectives can aid in the design of community forestry interventions brought by conservation and development agencies, by adding an important and understudied perspective to the problems that face community forestry. Without the community member playing an essential and empowered role, the success of community forestry will be limited.

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Evaluating the cumulative impacts of air pollution in northeast British Columbia (2010)

This research examined the potential cumulative impacts of air pollution in northeast British Columbia (BC). It was part of a larger project to develop tools for assessing the cumulative impacts of development in BC’s Treaty 8 traditional territory. Although this study was framed from a First Nations perspective, it has relevance to all residents of the region. The focus is on Criteria Air Contaminants (CAC); whose reporting in Canada is required based on contributions to acid rain, ozone and poor regional air quality. Air pollution in northeast BC is dominated by the upstream oil and gas (UOG) sector. An analysis of official emissions data and reporting policies showed that inventories severely underestimate UOG emission sources. Industry-based emission estimates were combined with a conventional government-based emissions inventory to give a more comprehensive dataset for the region. When CAC sources were considered inclusively and cumulatively across the region’s landscape, emissions of the CAC sulphur dioxide (SO₂), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds approximately doubled, reaching intensities comparable to urban areas. Due to the magnitude of SO₂ and NOx emissions, and their known contribution to the acidification of ecosystems in parts of Canada, the Critical Loads of Acidity (CL(A)) were estimated for freshwater lakes in the region. A scarcity of detailed lake chemistry data pre-empted the development of empirical methods for estimating CL(A). Alkalinity and calcium measurements were available for a significant number of lakes and were consequently used as indicators of acidification sensitivity using relationships between these parameters and existing CL(A) estimation procedures. The resulting CL(A) were used alongside Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAQO) and critical limits for various ecosystem elements, as thresholds for measuring potential air pollution effects. The AERMOD model, traditionally used for simulating the dispersion of UOG emissions from individual sources in BC, was used here to predict ambient concentrations and surface deposition of both SO₂ and NOx from numerous emission sources in an area of both cultural significance and high source density. Results predicted potential threshold exceedances that may have implications for ecosystems, human health and First Nations Treaty rights.

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Forest and hydrogeomorphic processes in shallow landslide initiation zones (2010)

Following a shallow landslide, hydrogeomorphic processes in the initiation zone respond to the discontinuities of soil depth, topographic expression, and hydrologic and forest conditions. The shallow landslides occurring at the study sites are episodic erosion processes punctuating periods marked by the deposition of hillslope material. Recovery of soil depth and topographic expression occurs through small-scale processes that infill the failure area. Rates of small-scale redistribution of hillslope material decline with time and are attributable to both vegetation re-establishment and diminished surface topographic variability. Understory forest vegetation in failure areas resemble the vegetation on adjacent undisturbed slopes within approximately 100 years of failure; re-establishment of the forest canopy may require several centuries longer. Stochastic elements of the surrounding forests strongly affect soil accumulation through influences on material transport and deposition. The central tendency of soil accumulation approximates a sigmoid curve with the majority of accumulation occurring within 100 years of failure. Soil depth on adjacent hillslopes positively influences soil accumulation in failure areas, but repeated shallow landslides can deplete hillslope materials from the contributing area. The sediment balance of weathering, storage, and evacuation strongly influences future cycles of failure and recharge. The frequency of preferential flow pathways in shallow landslide initiation zones was found to be spatially variable with fewer preferential flow pathways in the infilled soils of failure areas; thus landslide occurrence and subsequent infilling may negatively influence future slope stability. As a result of this study, recommendations for future research are made regarding the effects of forests on the regime of small-scale material transport processes occurring after shallow landslides, on the spatial and temporal development of preferential flow pathways in shallow landslide initiation zones, and on the long-term stability of sites of shallow landslides.

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An analytical platform for cumulative impact assessment in northeastern British Columbia (2009)

The combined influence on the environment of all projects occurring in a single area is evaluated through cumulative impact assessments (CIA), which consider the consequences of multiple projects, each possibly insignificant on its own, yet important when evaluated collectively. Traditionally, the future human activities are included in CIA using an analytical platform, commonly based on complex models that supply precise predictions but with asymptotically null accuracy. To compensate for the lack of accuracy of the current CIA I have proposed a shift in the paradigm governing the CIA. The paradigm shift involves a change in the focus of CIA investigations from the detailed analysis of one unlikely future to the identification of the patterns describing the future changes in the environment. To illustrate the approach, a set of 144 possible and equally likely futures were developed that aimed to identify the potential impacts of forest harvesting and petroleum drilling on the habitat suitability of moose and American marten. The evolution of two measures of habitat suitability (average HSI and surface of the stands with HSI>0.5) was investigated using univariate and multivariate repeated measures. Both analytical techniques (i.e., univariate or multivariate) revealed that the human activities could induce at least one cycle (with a period larger than 100 years), in the moose and American marten habitat dynamics. The planning period was separated into three or four distinct periods (depending on the investigation methodology) following a sinusoidal pattern (i.e., increase – constant – decrease in the habitat suitability measures). The attributes that could induce significant changes in the environment are the choice of harvesting age and the valued ecosystem component. The choice of the valued ecosystem component is critical to the analysis and could change the conclusions of the CIA.

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Sustainable Forest Management in the Context of Integrated Watershed Management in Southern China (2009)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Food security, forestry, and REDD+ benefit distribution in Ghana (2018)

Do international Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) institutions, such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), incorporate equal access to benefit as part of their programs in Ghana? This paper investigates the development of REDD+ strategies and project proposals in Ghana and looks specifically at what influence the creation of a new forest commodity could have on food insecurity in the country. Focusing on the access dimension of food security, a central question will be addressed: Are REDD+ Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreements (ERPAs) advantageous or disadvantageous to food insecure people wishing to strategically access forestry opportunities to reduce hunger and food insecurity? Critical to answering this question is an understanding of potential benefit available in REDD+ transactions in Ghana: who gets what, when, and how is benefit transferred. REDD+ ERPAs monetize forest carbon, Emission Reductions (ERs), gained through forest conservation and management activities. REDD+ is a market-based mechanism because it seeks to use market forces, the buying and selling of goods and services, to incentivize a conservation behaviour with respect to forest management. By commodifying and trading avoided deforestation and afforestation as a product and service, market actors institutionalize transaction types, roles, responsibilities and access characteristics of the marketplace. As a set of rules, REDD+ programs and protocols claim social and economic benefit is delivered to marginalized, often food-insecure, groups of people as stakeholders through contractual activities. At the same time as REDD+ projects are being planned and implemented in Ghana, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that there are presently no good indicators of social benefit in forestry. Looking closely at food security literature this paper highlights both opportunities and potential barriers being institutionalized by REDD+ programs. Carbon tenure rights and benefit sharing plans for REDD+ generated revenue will be discussed as well as the social and environmental safeguards mandatory under contractual regimes. Recommendations will focus on how to quantify social benefit from forestry and utilize knowledge created in the field of food and nutrition security more effectively in a cross-disciplinary manner.

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Incentives for bamboo plantations development in Ghana (2018)

The need to reverse or halt the loss of natural timber resources of Ghana is of great importance. Bamboo is a good alternative to timber and bamboo plantations can help reduce the pressure on natural forests. A number of initiatives and academic works have been conducted to encourage the domestic and commercial use of bamboo in Ghana. This thesis sought to add to these by exploring appropriate incentives for the development of bamboo plantations and proposing arrangements for the design of a bamboo incentive scheme. I covered three major areas in order to achieve these objectives: desired incentives for the development of bamboo plantations, possible effects of desired incentives on bamboo plantations and potential challenges to the adoption of incentives for bamboo plantation development. Large-scale and small-scale plantations developers in the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions were interviewed with structured questionnaires. Purposive sampling was used and a total of 41 responses were gathered. I found profitability of bamboo and high demand for bamboo to be the top two desired incentives by the large-scale developers. Direct financial support and capacity building were the top two desired incentives for the Ashanti region small-scale developers while direct financial support and financial benefits from bamboo emerged as the top two desired incentives for the Brong-Ahafo small-scale developers. I also found that the use of incentives for the development of bamboo plantations would have favorable outcomes in Ghana. The lack of legal backing and favorable state policies and a lack of transparency in incentive acquisition processes emerged among the major potential challenges to the use of incentives for bamboo plantation development under both the large-scale and small-scale categories. I recommend that further studies should be conducted on a larger sample size to enable more reliable outcomes and conclusions to be drawn.

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An Analysis of Farmers' Net Incomes from Underplanting Development - Case Studies from Hunan and Guangxi Provinces of China (2014)

Following the Collective Forest Tenure, the development of underplanted forest products (UFPs) is one of the forest-related policies intended to enhance the efficiency of forest land use, improve local farmers’ livelihoods, and at the same time protect forest resources. This study is aimed at understanding what might affect farmers’ incomes from UFPs, the difficulties and barriers farmers face in developing UFPs, and the influence of the UFP policy. To achieve this objective, one quantitative questionnaire study and two qualitative interview studies with local households and local forest authority directors were conducted in Jingzhou County, Hunan Province and in Sanjiang County, Guangxi Province in China. Education and market situation were important for UFP development. A lack of related knowledge and market information was the major barrier to cultivating UFPs. The influence of the policy to encourage UFPs was negligible. According to the participants, the main difference between households cultivating UFPs and those that were not was related to improved market access and information. Interviewees felt that cooperation and support from the government and from UFP processors would enhance their interests in the cultivation of UFPs.

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Developing Indicators for Human Well-Being in an Ecosystem-Based Management Context: A Case Study of Haida Gwaii (2014)

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) includes both ecological integrity and human well-being, although it is not clear how human well-being should be measured in an EBM context. Despite efforts to view EBM holistically, the human component is often overlooked or reduced to economic indicators that do not capture the full range of values held by the people affected by EBM policies. The purpose of this case study is to explore, in a region recently participating in EBM planning and policy implementation, human well-being indicators of importance to local residents. Haida Gwaii, an island archipelago located approximately 90 km off the coast of British Columbia (B.C.), Canada provides a particularly compelling case study, as the implementation of EBM on Haida Gwaii includes co-management between the Haida Nation and the Province of B.C. Using semi-structured interviews and constructivist grounded theory methodology, I identified seven categories important for human well-being on Haida Gwaii: employment and economic stability; relationship with the land, ocean and air; health; governance and access to services; culture and community; educated and engaged citizens; and overall well-being. Within these general categories, I also identified 46 specific human well-being indicators important to measure on Haida Gwaii. In addition, I identified concerns study participants had with human well-being indicators developed on the North and Central Coast of British Columbia. The important categories, sub-categories and indicators were integrated to produce three theoretical concepts that characterize what is important for human well-being on Haida Gwaii: 1) Relationship with the land, ocean and air 2) Access to benefits from natural resource development, and 3) Building resilient communities and human capital. Communities working to develop human well-being indicators in similar EBM contexts may find these concepts useful in their work.

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Indigenous knowledge, climate change and forest management: The Nisga'a nation approach (2014)

Climate change is one of the current threats that are impacting the world, and its consequences are greater when it comes to vulnerable communities. Despite its vast areas covered by untouched forest and plenty of natural resources, British Columbia, with a myriad of First Nations and other Indigenous peoples, is not the exception. First Nations culture and knowledge are based on natural resources; therefore, trying to understand what are the major impacts of a changing climate becomes paramount. Through this research, I sought to examine and characterize potential climate changes impacts in the lands covered by the Nisga’a Nation (Northern BC), and how these impacts are affecting traditional forest practices of the Nisga’a people. The method I used to gather the stories of participants in this study was participatory interviews. For the knowledge interpretation and analysis, I integrated individual research stories and thematic coding. I also conducted a community presentation during which the results were presented to the Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute Board of Directors, enabling the findings to be validated. The Nisga’a People are very concerned about the consequences that climate change could have on fish, not only because of the warmer temperatures, but also because of the flooding and the high level of the Nass River. Forests and the river are intimately connected, so any impacts on forests would have implications on the river, and consequently on fish. For instance, flooding and pests pose great risk to forests. Flooding affects the regeneration of forests species, and pests affect growth, even killing important cultural species for the Nisga’a people (e.g. western redcedar). Thus, by improving the forest’s resilience, the conditions that fish are facing during the spawning seasons would be also improved. To improve current conditions, the findings suggest that it is an imperative to revitalize a more traditional Nisga’a-oriented approach to resource management by adopting an integrative approach, where the management is undertaken from a resilience point of view, allowing the Nisga’a forests to return to their past non-degraded status (i.e. before logging started), and thus able to absorb the expected and unexpected impacts deriving from climate change.

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Seasonal business diversification of ski resorts and the effects on forest management : effects on trees and people due to a shift from winter only to year-round business of ski resorts in British Columbia (2014)

Some ski resorts are shifting their business models from winter-only snow-based activities to year-round tourism. This may be happening as a result of climate change or because of a change in recreationists' behaviour, amongst other causes. This research seeks to understand the impacts of such shifts on forest management in the areas surrounding the ski resorts. It investigates the effects of these shifts on the boundaries of the the impacted land used by residents and visitors. These effects are evaluated from an environmental impact point of view and also from a socio-economic point of view. The research also attempts to relate these shifts to factors such as location, timing and scale effects related to the size of the resorts. Four case studies were chosen: Whistler, Sun Peaks resort, Hemlock Valley resort and Mount Washington resort. In each case, opinions of stakeholders were collected through semi-structured interviews and the data were analysed by a method inspired by grounded theory and Qualitative Data Analysis.Results identify factors and mechanisms that allow a shift to happen in a ski resort and propose dates for the two case studies where the shift occurred. The strength of the communities and their incorporation into resort municipalities are identified as critical factors. Forestry practices are found to have been impacted by the shift because of a change of management values towards more recreation and visuals values. An increase of the amount of stakeholders with varied vested interests in the forests is believed to improve the forests' management. The number of people experiencing nature during the summer months and their attitudes are believed to increase awareness about the environment. This increased awareness induces scrutiny and self-regulation through information technologies. Moreover, the quality of life of shifted communities is shown to be increased and linked to a more environmentally friendly land stewardship. This acts as a positive feedback loop for a successful shift and change in forest management.

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Understanding the Factors that Drive Firm-Level Transformations in the BC Forest Sector (2014)

Today’s changing business environments pose challenges for British Columbian forest firms in sustaining long-term competitive advantages. In response to these challenges, forest firms can initiate complex transformation processes that seek to project their performance out of a conventional competition cycle. Of interest for multiple stakeholders are the questions of why these transformations ultimately occur, which type of changes can produce them, and how they can be implemented. This exploratory research focuses on analyzing the opinions of senior executives of BC forest businesses about the transforming processes of their firm. Understanding the views of these executives is one of the fundamental pieces of making sense of the forest business transformations. Semi-structured interviews provide the data collection strategy to elicit executives’ views and preferences for adopting different transformational strategies and new product portfolios. Analyses of the transcribed interviews reveal that executives associate firm-level transformations with the execution of seven different business strategies. The findings suggest a firm-specific pattern in defining the transformation processes. Differences in framing the concept of firm-level transformations are linked to differences in the types of changes considered transformative by executives in different firms. Correspondingly, executives’ preferences about adopting new product offerings in their firms also varied from one company to another, but were similar between executives from the same company. The firm-specific defining pattern is explained by a moderating role of the organizational culture of forest firms. The business culture of these companies can regulate executives’ intentions to transform the firm and the decision-making processes aimed at selecting the transformational strategies. The leadership style, ownership structure and the organizational values are elements explaining the business culture of the BC forest firms.Results also uncover a number of forces that can trigger transformation processes in BC forest firms from the perspectives of the executives. The findings also reveal barriers to transformational change and a set of factors that facilitate the implementation of the transformation processes. To further understand the views of executives about firm level transformations, future studies would likely benefit from the decision-making model and the set of research questions drawn from the findings of this exploratory research.

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Comparison of Techniques for Measuring Forest Carbon in British Columbia (2012)

The Earth is currently in a period of rapid climate change and the anthropogenic release of carbon dioxide (CO₂) is widely considered to be the primary cause. Forests are an important part of the global carbon cycle and their ability to mitigate atmospheric CO₂ levels is increasingly being recognized. Forest carbon projects generate carbon offsets either through the application of specialized forest management practices, or through the protection or restoration of deforested or degraded land. The ability to quantify accurately the amount of carbon that would be sequestered by forest carbon project activities is critical to their success. A variety of forest carbon modeling techniques exist and use a variety of methods for data acquisition including forest inventory data, remotely sensed data, or ground measurements. However the accuracy of these modeling techniques varies, making their standard application difficult.This thesis contributes to the understanding of forest carbon quantification by comparing forest carbon estimates derived from a ground-based technique with forest carbon estimates derived from three forest carbon modeling techniques: Canadian Forest Service Carbon Budget Model (CBM-CFS3), Vegetative Resource Inventory Biomass Equations, and Private Woodland Planner. Both differential and least squares mean statistical analyses were conducted to determine which modeling technique estimated forest carbon closest to estimates derived from the ground-based technique. The hypothesis that framed this research was that CBM-CFS3 would be the most accurate modeling technique. However results indicated that forest carbon estimates from PWP are closest to those derived from the ground-based technique. Results derived from CBM-CFS3 are farthest from the ground-based technique. The results from this project suggest that an ideal forest carbon quantification technique incorporates field sampling with broad-based model estimates. Current research in forest carbon modeling techniques shows a trend towards more accurate and efficient estimates, which will allow project developers to better measure forest carbon stocks, improve forest conservation, and generate greater economic opportunities. These improvements will also increase the effectiveness of forest carbon projects and their role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

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Reforestation under climate change in British Columbia, an institutional assessment (2012)

Reforestation is the most important part of any strategy intended to establish desired future forest conditions, including climate change resilience. Forest managers have a wide range of choices around forest regeneration. They can select among different tree species, genotypes, planting mixes; and silvicultural systems. Over time these choices influence forest composition, structure, and function that then affect the provision of forest values. In British Columbia (BC), climate change has been raised as major issue in terms of its current and projected impacts on forests resources, yet managing to address them remains uncommon. This raises questions about the institutional framework governing management and its influence on the capacity to use reforestation to adapt to climate change. This study describes how climate is changing in BC, adaptations in the forest sector, and the adaptation research efforts to date. It describes the policy environment and associated regulations that direct and guide management on public land in BC and their influence on the ability to use reforestation for climate change adaptation. This includes requirements for reestablishing free growing timber stands, the treatment of silvicultural costs under the stumpage system, and the use of alternative forest stocking standards not found in government guidebooks. Barriers to adaptive management are identified through two surveys of respondents directly involved in reforestation planning and implementation in BC. Important institutional barriers and risks to adaptation are identified as well as incentives and policy alternatives to facilitate it. Perspectives of government managers, licensees, researchers, and practitioners show a common belief that the climate is changing and that the responsibility to future generations for climate vulnerability reduction and forest resilience lies in the present. Nevertheless, differences in perspectives emerge at more operational levels and several factors may constrain the flexibility necessary for the use of adaptive reforestation strategies, especially, aversion to risk, timber supply impacts, stocking standard approval, free growing determination criteria, and silvicultural investment security. While sustainable forest management is the ideal framework for adaptation, it will not occur without policy adjustments to address these barriers and to provide an environment in which forest resilience is a key management objective.

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The collaborative forest management user group's perceptions and expectations on REDD+ in Nepal (2012)

As many ecological and socioeconomic problems are associated with deforestation and forest degradation in Nepal, it is in the national interest to address REDD+ immediately. Although local communities and indigenous peoples are the main actors for REDD+ practices, their needs and perceptions have received little attention in the debates on REDD+.In this study, a Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) site was studied using a questionnaire survey administered to the CFM user group, interviews with key informants in the forestry sector and a review of documents to collect background data. The research revealed the local CFM forest users’ perceptions of their forest and their expectations about the potential benefits of REDD+, and examined differences in these perceptions and expectations among nearby and distant users. The study provides insights into the feasibility of REDD+ with the context of the present form of CFM in Nepal. The findings indicate that people are sensitive to changes in climate and the forest around them but are unaware of climate change mechanisms and linkage of climate change and deforestation. There is therefore a need to raise social awareness of climate change and of REDD+. Compared to distant users, nearby users felt more strongly that the forest is essential to their lives and were more interested in participation in REDD+ practices. As the distant users would be also significant actors in the practices, there is a need to raise distant users’ interests in REDD+. Both nearby and distant users have high expectations of the potential benefits of REDD+. However, REDD+ is treated as a technical matter in national debates, and there has been a failure to recognize the impacts on society and human welfare at the local level. The Government urgently needs to take human welfare into account if they are to receive local support. Nepal needs to keep exploring the most appropriate methods to implement REDD+ projects, given the structure of the society being affected. It is important to develop a system of equitable decision-making and benefit-sharing that reflects local needs, and is incorporated into any REDD+ action plans applied to the Terai forests.

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Improvement of China's air pollution (sulphur dioxide and acid rain) control and countermeasures by introducing emissions trading system (2010)

As human beings, we rely on the atmospheric environment as a valuable resource for our daily needs. Destruction of this environment is usually an irreversible process. Attempting to restore an already damaged atmospheric environment is much more costly than preventing atmospheric pollution in the first place. As has been the case with the industrialization of western countries, Asia‘s social and economic development has created an awareness of new problems of environmental pollution and ecological degradation. Data collected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) indicate that particulates transported in the air from East Asia to North America represent about 15% of the total particulate production in North America. China, as the largest developing country located in Asia, has experienced a dramatic increase in energy demands and pollutant emissions. This is partly because coal is the primary source of energy for China, something that is not expected to change in the foreseeable future. The country is not meeting its established objectives on air pollution abatement and the current administrative mechanisms are not providing adequate solutions for sulphur dioxide or acid rain problems. In response to this, the Chinese government is looking for more effective ways to balance economic growth and pollution control. One such mechanism for China could be an emissions trading program aimed at adjusting and improving air pollutant control mechanisms.This research is primarily an exploration of introducing an emissions trading system, which has played a significant and effective role in sulphur dioxide and acid rain control in US, aiming at adjusting and improving the air pollutant control mechanism in China. In terms of the feasibility analysis, with the improvement of China‘s special market economy conditions, integrating market mechanisms with "total amount control" to establish China‘s own emissions trading system, which is also known as "cap & trade", is likely to contribute greatly to sulphur dioxide and acid rain control in China. A recommended design and implementation roadmap for China‘s emissions trading scheme has also been conducted in this research.

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This list shows a selection of news releases by UBC Media Relations over the last 5 years.

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