The Liber Ero Letter on Environmental Assessment in Canada: a call to strengthen science in decision making.

to-uploadCanada needs to mobilize knowledge – the best that science has to offer –  in order to understand and mitigate the impacts of large-scale industrial projects. Above:  an open pit oilsands operation in NE Alberta, such projects are routinely assessed as having a non-significant impact. 

 15-Dec-2016

The following letter was submitted on October 27th, 2016 to the Honourable Catherine McKenna  (Minister of Environment and Climate Change),the Honourable Dr. Kirsty Duncan (Minister of Science), the Expert Panel on Review of Environmental Assessment Processes, and all members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development.

This letter was uploaded to the Environmental Assessment Review website on 13-Dec-2016.

An oral presentation of this letter by Dr. Aerin Jacob is schedule TODAY (15-Dec-2016) at the Environmental Assessment Review Panel in Nanaimo, BC.

Download letter here.environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-001environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-002environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-003environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-004environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-005environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-006environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-007environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-008environmental-assessment-reform-letter-from-liber-ero-fellows-page-009

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Putting people at the centre of conservation

Putting people at the centre of conservation

Story by Michelle Ma originally posted at: UW News

 

fishing boats in thailand

Fishing boats on the beach in front of a marine protected area. Photo: Nathan Bennett

 

People must be part of the equation in conservation projects. This will increase local support and the effectiveness of conservation.

That’s the main conclusion of a study published online Nov. 29 in the journal Biological Conservation. In it, an international group of scientists led by Liber Ero Fellow Dr. Nathan Bennett recognizes the need to consider humans’ livelihoods, cultural traditions and dependence on natural resources when planning and carrying out conservation projects around the world.

“We really need to think about people as we’re creating conservation initiatives. Forgetting about humans in the conservation recipe is like forgetting yeast in a loaf of bread,” said lead author Nathan Bennett, a researcher at the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia.

As the Earth continues to lose species and natural resources, the common approach to conservation has been to emphasize natural science to solve ecological problems, leaving people’s relationships to natural resources out of the discussion. Increasingly, natural scientists and social scientists are partnering to try to consider both the needs of nature and of stakeholders. But for lack of good precedent, funding and will, often conservation organizations and activities don’t fully consider the human dimensions of conservation, the authors found.

“When people are ignored and conservation measures are put in, we see opposition, conflict and often failure,” Bennett said. “These problems require the best available evidence, and that includes having both natural and social scientists at the table.”

 

a diagram showing a list of social sciences

The conservation social sciences

 

This paper follows dozens of studies that point out the need for humans to be considered in environmental management and conservation, but few have articulated the benefits of doing so and exactly how to do this, Bennett explained. This review paper is the first to bring together the entire storyline by listing the practical contributions the variety of social sciences can offer to improve conservation.

“This paper helps us to move beyond statements about the need for this toward actually setting the agenda,” Bennett said.

Two years ago, Bennett convened an international working group to find ways to practically involve more social scientists from fields such as geography, history, anthropology and economics in conservation projects. This paper is one of several outcomes from that working group. Another paper published in July 2016 suggests that conservation organizations and funders should put more emphasis on social sciences and explains what an ideal “conservation team” could look like.

“Modern environmental problems require diverse and creative teams to find solutions,” Bennett explained.

This new study calls for action to ensure that we have learned the lessons from past failures and successes of ignoring or considering human dimensions in conservation.

 

fishing boats off the coast of Thailand

Some small-scale fishers on the Andaman coast of Thailand are resentful about marine protected areas, as they were not consulted and their needs were not considered. Photo: Nathan Bennett

 

In Thailand, for example, officials set up a series of marine protected areas along the country’s coastline to try to conserve threatened habitats, including coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass meadows. But they didn’t consider the thousands of fishermen and women who live near or inside the marine protected areas and rely on fishing and harvesting for livelihoods and feeding their families. Fishing bans and unfair treatment have led to resentment and opposition. In one case, fishermen burned a ranger station in protest.

To add to the divisiveness, big commercial boats still caught fish in these areas because the protection zones were not well enforced.

A recent successful example was the creation of California’s marine protected area network. Local fisheries and communities, along with scientists, fishery managers, government and industry, were all brought to the table and the outcome ultimately was supported by most groups involved, Bennett explained.

 

fishing boat off the coast of canada

A fishing boat in Port Hardy on the Pacific Coast of Canada. Photo: Sarah Klain

 

Similarly, right now in British Columbia planning for marine protected areas is underway, and First Nations leaders are working alongside local and federal governments.

Successful conservation projects happen when both natural and social scientists are working with government, nonprofits, resource managers and local communities to come up with solutions that benefit everyone. This can take more time and resources at the outset, but Bennett and his collaborators argue that social scientists are often in a position to help make this a more efficient process.

“Ignoring the people who live in an area can be a costly mistake for conservation. This is one of those cases where an ounce of prevention can be worth more than a pound of cure,” he said. “Specialists in the social sciences can develop more creative, robust and effective solutions to environmental problems that people are going to get behind.”

 

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For more information, contact Bennett at nathan.bennett@ubc.ca.

Journal reference:

  1. Nathan J. Bennett, Robin Roth, Sarah C. Klain, Kai Chan, Patrick Christie, Douglas A. Clark, Georgina Cullman, Deborah Curran, Trevor J. Durbin, Graham Epstein, Alison Greenberg, Michael P Nelson, John Sandlos, Richard Stedman, Tara L Teel, Rebecca Thomas, Diogo Veríssimo, Carina Wyborn. Conservation social science: Understanding and integrating human dimensions to improve conservationBiological Conservation, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.10.006

Making Real Progress on Marine Protected Areas in Canada

Last week the Liber Ero Fellows were in Canada’s capital. While in Ottawa, a group of Liber Ero Fellows including Dr. Aerin Jacob, Dr. Kim Davies and Dr. Nathan Bennett made presentations to the All-Party Ocean Caucus on their research. Nathan Bennett (2015 Liber Ero Fellow, University of British Columbia) presented a policy brief titled “Making Real Progress on Marine Protected Areas in Canada“. The brief can be found here and the text of the policy brief follows below.

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Liber Ero Fellows and Members of the All-Party Ocean Caucus, October 24, 2016, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (From left to right: MP Elizabeth May (Green), David Miller (WWF-Canada), MP Fin Donelly, Dr. Kim Davies (Dalhousie), MP Scott Simms, Dr. Nathan Bennett (UBC/UWash), Dr. Aerin Jacob (UVic), Dr. Sally Otto (UBC).

Making Real Progress on Marine Protected Areas in Canada

Creating effective and successful networks of marine protected areas in Canada requires attention to all elements of Aichi Target 11 and to international best practices for incorporating ecological, socio-economic, cultural and governance considerations.

Federal government ministerial mandate letters 2015, DFO: “Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected – to five percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2020 – supported by new investments in community consultation and science.”

Convention on Biological Diversity, Aichi Target 11: “By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.”

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Ecologically significant areas in the Great Bear Sea. Photo credit: Ian McAllister/Pacificwild (pacificwild.org) – Used with permission.

As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada is striving to achieve the ambitious goal of 10% coverage of coastal and marine areas in networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020. Key points to ensure that MPA networks are effective and successful are summarized below:

  1. More than just area – Aichi Target 11 focuses on more than just the amount of area protected (i). Creating ecologically effective MPA networks also requires attention to: representation of all habitats, inclusion of unique and biologically significant areas, connectedness, and consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem service values (ii).
  2. Management effectiveness – Only 24% of protected areas are managed effectively globally (iii). Effective management requires adequate government funding, capacity and enforcement. Ongoing research programs are also needed to monitor and evaluate social and ecological outcomes and guide adaptive management (iv).
  3. Integrated ocean and coastal planning – The overall success and effectiveness of MPAs increases when integrated into a broader system of marine and coastal management that takes into account multiple stressors and promotes actions to mitigate the impacts of development (v).
  4. Socio-economic and cultural considerations – Aichi Target 11 requires that MPAs are “equitably managed” which requires that social, economic and cultural considerations are factored into planning and management. In particular, there is a need to understand and balance the social and economic impacts of MPAs for different stakeholders during network planning and to incorporate cultural considerations and Aboriginal peoples’ rights into management plans (vi).
  5. Good governance – Good governance during planning, implementation and management is a key to the success of conservationvii. This means that decision-making processes and co-management structures need to be inclusive, participatory and transparent and respectful of the preferential rights of Aboriginal peoples and right relationships with First Nations’ governments (vii).
  6. “Other effective area-based conservation measures” (OEACBM) – What counts as an OEABCM needs to be clearly defined in the spirit of the Aichi target and in alignment with all the elements listed above (viii). This means that managed areas that benefit only one species or habitat should not be considered equivalent to a marine protected area. Consideration should also be given to other governance models that effectively conserve biodiversity, including Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas and Tribal Parks (ix).

Currently, MPAs cover 1.1% of Canada’s oceans (x)

Getting from 1.1% (497,600km2) to the milestone of 10% is a significant challenge that will require collaboration between multiple levels of government and different jurisdictions. For example, MPAs fall under the authority of Fisheries and Oceans, Parks and Environment & Climate Change Canada. To facilitate the achievement of the targets the government is advised to build on past and ongoing marine planning process of provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments, such as the Marine Plan Partnership, First Nations Marine Planning, the PNCIMA process and the Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA planning process (xi)

Resolutions:

prawn-boat-on-central-coast-natalie-ban

Fishing boat on the Pacific Coast of Canada. Photo credit: Natalie Ban. Used with permission.

  • Ensure that all elements of Aichi Target 11 are taken into account when planning MPA networks in Canada.
  • Incorporate lessons from global experiences of creating MPAs related to effective management, good governance and integrated planning
  • Account for social, economic and cultural considerations in planning and management of MPAs.
  • Develop adequate co-management structures and decision-making processes that include First Nations as equal partners.
  • Support multi-jurisdictional collaboration and build on previous initiatives.
  • Ensure that MPA planning and management is guided by both natural and social science. Implement monitoring and evaluation to guide adaptive management.

Prepared by Dr. Nathan Bennett (University of British Columbia) and Dr. Natalie Ban (University of Victoria) with input from members of the OceanCanada Partnership (oceancanada.org). Please contact us should you wish further information: nathan.bennett@ubc.ca and nban@uvic.ca

(i) Spalding, M. et al. Building towards the marine conservation end-game: consolidating the role of MPAs in a future ocean. Aquatic Cons 26, 185–199 (2016).

(ii) Jessen, S. et al. Science Based Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas and Marine Protected Area Networks in Canada. 58 (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, 2011).

(iii) Leverington, F. & et al. Management effectiveness evaluation in protected areas – a global study (2nd ed). (U of Queensland, 2010).

(iv) Pomeroy, R. S., Parks, J. E. & Watson, L. M. How is your MPA doing?: A guidebook of natural and social indicators for evaluating marine protected area management effectiveness. (IUCN, 2004).

(v) Nowlan, L. Brave New Wave: Marine Spatial Planning & Ocean Regulation on Canada’s Pacific. J. of Env Law Prac 29, 151–198 (2016).

(vi) Rodríguez-Rodríguez, D., Rees, S. E., Rodwell, L. D. & Attrill, M. J. IMPASEA: A methodological framework to monitor and assess the socioeconomic effects of marine protected areas. Env Sci Pol 54, 44–51 (2015); Ban, N. C. et al. A social–ecological approach to conservation planning: embedding social considerations. Front Ecol Env 11, 194–202 (2013).

(vii) Bennett, N. J. & Dearden, P. From measuring outcomes to providing inputs: Governance, management, and local development for more effective marine protected areas. Mar Poli 50, 96–110 (2014).; Burt, J.M., et al. 2015. Marine Protected Area Network Design Features that Support Resilient Human-Ocean Systems. Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.

(viii) Mackinnon, D. et al. 2015. Canada and Aichi Biodiversity Target 11: understanding ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ in the context of the broader target. Biodiversity and Conservation 24:3559-3581; DFO. Guidance on identifying ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ in Canadian coastal and marine waters. (DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, 2016).

(xi) See: http://www.facebook.com/tlaoquiaht/about/; http://www.iccaconsortium.org; Wilson, P., McDermott, L., Johnston, N. & Hamilton, M. An Analysis of Intenational Law, National Legislation, Judgements, and Institutions as they Interrelate with Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities – Report No 8. Canada. (Natural Justice, 2012).

(x) Data: http://www.ccea.org; Visualization: www.wwf.ca/conservation/oceans/

(xi) mappocean.orgmpanetwork.ca/bcnorthernshelf/other-initiatives/mpanetwork.ca