Capacity to support cumulative effects assessment and management in the Athabasca watershed, Alberta, Canada
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It has been well articulated that there is a need to better assess and manage cumulative environmental effects on Canada’s watersheds. Cumulative Effects Assessment and Management (CEAM) is simply not working in its current form. Presently there exists a significant amount of literature on the scientific aspects necessary to assess cumulative environmental effects; however, there are limitations in the understanding of the institutional arrangements relating to CEAM. Taking into account this shortcoming, the objectives of this research are to evaluate the current institutional framework by determining the presence of requisites necessary for watershed-based CEAM and to identify the capacity requirements to support the these requisites in the Athabasca watershed in Alberta. The methods applied to achieve these objectives are a focus group meeting with participants familiar with CEAM; a review of relevant documents prepared by industry, watershed groups, and government; and a series of semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders. The overall analysis will be based upon eight requisites necessary for CEAM which have been identified through a previous research study of watershed-based cumulative effects assessment and management. The central findings of this study demonstrate that, although the institutional arrangements are in the process of being developed in the Athabasca watershed, there still exist many challenges relating to the capacity requirements to support watershed-based CEAM. The primary challenges which have been identified by those who participated in this study include the lack of effective data management and coordination, a lack of broader regional programs, and a lack of an overarching funding mechanism to support watershed-based CEAM initiatives. Despite these challenges, it was found that steps are being taken in the Athabasca watershed and province to develop frameworks which are conducive to advancing the institutional arrangements and capacity for watershed-based CEAM. This is demonstrated through the development of recent legislation mandated to provide direction for CEAM, in addition to the presence of various multi-stakeholder organizations which participate in the decision-making processes relating to watershed management. This research will contribute to a larger, Canada-wide project focused on the effective implementation of watershed-based CEAM in Canadian watersheds. Specifically, this study will contribute to the understanding of institutional arrangements and capacity requirements in the Athabasca watershed in Alberta.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentGeography and Planning
CommitteePatrick, Robert; Noble, Bram; Gunn, Jill; da Costa Silva, Gabriela
Copyright DateNovember 2011
Cumulative effects assessment and management