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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analytical platform for cumulative impact assessment in northeastern British Columbia Strimbu, Bogdan Miha

Abstract

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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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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