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Rem 200 Introduction to Resource and Environmental Management. Instructor: Duncan Knowler, Associate Professor School of Resource and Environmental Management Course Information.

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rem 200 introduction to resource and environmental management

Rem 200 Introduction to Resource and Environmental Management

Instructor: Duncan Knowler, Associate Professor

School of Resource and Environmental Management

course information
Course Information
  • The course grade will be determined as follows:
    • Assignments (30%) – Students complete two assignments worth 15% each that require them to apply core concepts to a specific problem in resource and environmental management.
    • Group Project (30%) – Students participate in a group project that involves collaboration with fellow students in addressing a complex environmental management problem. Group projects will be partially developed during the tutorial.
    • Final Exam (30%) – Students write a final exam covering all of the course material.
    • Participation (10%) – Students are required to actively participate in classroom and tutorial discussions.
course information cont d
Course Information, cont’d
  • Course Pre-requisites

Students must have one of REM 100, GEOG 100 or 111 or EVSC 100, or complete at least 30 credits.

  • Required Text and Readings
  • Bruce Mitchell, Resource and Environmental Management in Canada: Addressing Conflict and Uncertainty, Fourth Edition, Oxford University Press, 584pp (2010). ISBN - 0195431286.
  • For information on the text and student resources, see:
  • Additional online (electronic) readings and course materials (ppt slides) can be downloaded from the course website:
course information cont d2
Course Information, cont’d
  • After completing REM 200, students will be able to:
    • identify and describe the basic linkages between physical earth processes, ecology, policy, economics and institutions/culture regarding natural resources and the environment;
    • describe the main strategies and techniques of resource and environmental management and identify knowledge needed to solve an environmental problem;
    • identify how uncertainty is taken into account in environmental decision-making;
    • demonstrate awareness of potential conflicts in resource and environmental management decision-making; and
    • work effectively in a team to investigate an environmental management problem.
topics for this week
Topics for this week ..
  • There are many contextual themes which are present in resource and environmental management, e.g.
    • Interrelatedness of globalization, environment and development
    • Issues of conflict & uncertainty
    • Getting decision makers and the public’s attention
  • Canada’s historic resource development challenges
  • Is Canada a leader in environmentally-responsible development?
  • What constitutes ecosystem health?
  • Monitoring and assessing ecosystem health
  • Barriers and opportunities for managing for healthy ecosystems
contextual themes for resource and environmental management
Contextual Themes for Resource and Environmental Management
  • Roles & responsibilities of various groups:
    • Canada Act (constitution), division of powers among federal, provincial and municipal governments
    • Increasing and important role of Aboriginal peoples and civil society
  • Regional interests and (competing) perspectives
  • Globalization and international influence
    • Binding trade agreements
    • Environmental regulations/treaties
    • Industrial perspectives, e.g. capital expansion, techno-change
    • Lasting impacts of the economic downturn in 2008
globalization resource development and change
Globalization, resource development and change
  • Global Village and Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Message” (1967)
  • Global integration and homogeneity through time–space compression, enabled by more efficient communication and transportation
  • Environmental resource extraction and conversion during imperialism (pre-WWII), developmentalism (post-WWII), and neo-liberalism (late 20th century)
  • Conflict and uncertainty, amidst increasing complexity and connectivity
  • Embeddedness at multiple scales: global and local, global–local (glocal) structures and processes
  • Global environmental stress is acted out and lived locally
  • Identity politics and environmental change (e.g. Green Parties)
global public goods
Global Public Goods
  • What are these?
    • Global Public Goods are commodities, services or resources with shared benefits. They possess two characteristics:
      • They produce benefits that are impossible to prevent everyone from enjoying
      • Consumption by one individual does not detract from that of another.
  • What are some examples?
    • Atmosphere
    • Deep oceans
    • Biodiversity
    • Space
contextual themes cont d
Contextual Themes Cont’d…
  • Conflict & Uncertainty
    • Resource and environmental management = conflict management
    • Decision-making is plagued with uncertainty
    • Conflict and uncertainty can interact and reinforce one another, making resource management more challenging
dorcey s four types of conflict
Dorcey`s Four Types of Conflict

Contextual Themes Cont’d…

wynne s four kinds of uncertainty
Wynne`s Four Kinds of Uncertainty

Contextual Themes Cont’d…

more contextual themes
More Contextual Themes ..
  • Competition for attention of policy- and decision-makers
    • Those concerned about a particular issue have to work diligently to maintain its position on policy agendas
    • Supporters of other issues are always striving to replace it or at least surpass it in order of priority

contextual themes cont d1
Contextual Themes Cont’d…

The Downs Issue-Attention Cycle

challenges for today s public policy makers
Challenges for today’s public policy-makers
  • Four interrelated challenges:
    • Speed: rapid flow of information, ideas, people things
    • Scale (temporal and spatial): interconnectedness, readiness for collective action, alliances
    • Complexity: requires a systems perspective, effective communication to citizens
    • Impact: actors beyond government's control, e.g. commodity prices set internationally affect local industries and consumer behavior
contextual themes
Contextual Themes

Ship-breaking in Bangladesh

  • ‘Best management practices’ are key ingredients for managing a resource or environmental issue
    • Vision .. where to?
    • Legitimacy .. tools?
    • Systems perspective
    • Adaptation and resilience
    • Partnerships .. co-manage?
    • Impact and risk assessment
    • Communication with


canada a history of resource extraction and challenges
Canada: A history of resource extraction and challenges
  • Europeans first came to Newfoundland to fish cod
  • Fur trade, Hudson’s Bay Company (est. 1670)
  • Canada = hinterland of resources for Europe, as explained by Harold Innis’ Staples Theory (1946)
  • Other issues:
    • Relationship with USA, politico-economic intervention (e.g. softwood lumber dispute, Keystone XL pipeline)
    • Alberta oil and gas dependent on global petroleum prices and, increasingly, pipeline politics
    • Sealing industry: Canada defends against global pressure to end clubbing of baby seals
canada s patchy record on resource management
Canada’s ‘patchy’ record on resource management

Devastation and outcry from James Bay hydroelectric dams on traditional Cree lands (early 1970s) — leads to the first ‘modern’ treaty with aboriginals in 1975

Berger Commission (1977) on Mackenzie pipeline development raised the bar with respect to protecting environmental and social values

Despite being a leader in development of fisheries science, collapse of East Coast cod fishery in the 1980s & 90s

Clayoquot Sound (1990s) on Vancouver Island; aroused protests that led to improved forestry practices

Other examples: Northern Diamond Mines and Aboriginal concerns; however, these are conflict-free diamonds

canada as an environmental leader
Canada as an Environmental Leader?

The jury is still out…

The country is blessed with abundant natural resources

Canada’s staples economy within the global economy still plays a major role in policy and practice, e.g. oil sands, seal hunt, etc.

While failures (cod fishery) and poor implementation (Kyoto, climate change) prevail …

Advances are being made with Aboriginal peoples

Communication and participation opportunities for a broader spectrum of Canadians in environmental decision-making; and educational opportunities

Not all bad news …

what is ecosystem health
What is ‘ecosystem health’?

More than a metaphor… tied to anthropogenic stress

Ecosystem health is NOT tied to individual or societal preferences or tastes

‘Health’ is an objectively measurable property at all levels of biological organization

It can be objectively assessed based on changes in ecosystem structure and function

Needs a broad spectrum of measures (similarly, human health is measured not only as blood pressure and lung function)

challenges to measuring ecosystem health
Challenges to measuring ‘ecosystem health’

Ecosystem boundaries are, to some extent, arbitrary

They are highly dynamic systems (how does one measure change in a changing environment?)

The complexity of ecosystems at multiple scales (microscopic and global)

The myriad of species and their interactions (some of which are invisible, and others are yet unknown)

How to maintain the three key attributes of healthy ecosystems: organization, vitality and resilience ?

aspects of healthy ecosystems
Aspects of healthy ecosystems …

Organization—the capacity to maintain their biotic structure (i.e., their characteristic biological diversity, their interactions between species and with the abiotic environment)

Vitality (or vigour)—the capacity to maintain their level of biological productivity

Resilience—the capacity of ecosystems to rebound from the perturbations such as those caused by fire, flood, drought, and so forth

And remember… humans are part of ecosystems, thus what is defined as ‘healthy’ is not restricted to only the ecological dimensions, it must recognize the human component

expressed as six properties of healthy ecosystems
Expressed as six properties of healthy ecosystems

Energetic: natural systems are strong and not severely constrained (vitality)

Self-organizing: in an emerging, evolving way (organization)

Self-defending against the introduction of foreign elements (resilience)

Able to recover from occasional stress or natural calamities (resilience)

Aesthetically attractive (the human perspective, organization)

Productive of goods and services valued by humans (socio-economic vitality)

genuine wealth and measuring ecosystem health
Genuine Wealth and Measuring Ecosystem Health

The merging of assessments of ecosystem health into an accounting system that integrates the ecological and economic dimensions of our society

We manage our nation, our provinces, and our communities without a balance sheet—that is, we need to account for ‘real capital assets’, not just economic growth, as measured by GDP

Thus, argue for monitoring of the five “capitals”: (a) Human capital, (b) Natural capital, (c) Social capital, (d) Produced capital, and (e) Financial capital

This approach proposes a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) in place of the GNP to monitor conditions

monitoring and assessing ecosystem health
Monitoring and Assessing Ecosystem Health
  • Today, dozens of models exist to monitor and assess ecosystem health, based on earlier Statistics Canada models
  • Examples of various applications in ecosystems:
    • Forest ecosystem health
    • The Laurentian Great Lakes Ecosystem
    • Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP)
    • Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine Ecosystem
    • Fraser Basin Council
    • Puget Sound/Georgia Basin Ecosystem
  • Each represent different challenges in terms of socio-economic, political, and ecological contexts
an example puget sound georgia basin action plan
An example: Puget Sound/ Georgia Basin Action Plan
  • The Georgia Basin Action Plan was a partnership initiative led by Environment Canada with a vision of “healthy, productive and sustainable ecosystems and communities in the Georgia Basin.“
  • The Georgia Basin Action Plan had four goals:
    • Collaborative stewardship actions support the sustainability of the Georgia Basin
    • Sustainable land, aquatic and resource planning and management support the conservation, protection and restoration of the environment, enhance human well-being and contribute to a strengthened economy
    • Scientific and indigenous knowledge supports improved decision-making by enhancing the understanding of key ecosystem stresses
    • Targeted ecosystems are protected and restored
  • The Georgia Basin Action Plan officially ended on March 31, 2009
conclusion conflict uncertainty and future challenges
Conclusion: Conflict, Uncertainty and Future Challenges

Globalization as chance for growth that is economic but is ecologically sound and socially responsible

Canada = resource dependency, yet global actor

Conflict: economy versus environment

Uncertainty is inherent in ecosystem studies, yet should not be used as an excuse for inaction

Proposed ‘solutions’ to environmental problems remain heavily weighted toward short-term benefits with little attention to what is required to restore long-term health

Aldo Leopold (1940s): ‘how to humanly occupy the Earth without rendering it dysfunctional?’