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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Forest policy in northeast British Columbia from the 1990s to the early 2000s : comparing approaches to explaining policy change Chang, Sharon


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the increasing concern about protecting environmental values in forest across Canada and in other industrialized nations, many jurisdictions enacted new laws. Much of the new forest legislation was done through the so-called “command and control” approach to strengthen the regulation of forest practices and planning. Although the new regulatory frameworks were successful in forcing private firms and governments to pay greater attention to environmental concerns, they had also raised concerns about regulatory efficiency and cost effectiveness and prompted demands to reduce regulatory burdens and the costs of production. In response, the Government of British Columbia enacted a new regulatory framework that shifted away from detailed prescriptions and process-based approaches to those that are more based on “results” or “performance.” To examine factors explaining such policy change, this dissertation analyzes two forest policy decisions in British Columbia - the revisions to the Forest Practices Code authorizing results-based pilot projects and the Fort St. John Pilot Project in the early 2000s – against two distinct theoretical frameworks. The analysis confirms the utility of the two theoretical frameworks - the Policy Regime Framework and the Advocacy Coalition Framework - in explaining policy change. The findings of this research also reveal the limitations of each of the two theoretical lenses, and suggest that ideas exert an independent causal influence on policies when uncertainty is high, information is incomplete, and the policy goal is shared by policy actors. As a result, a new synthesis of the two theories is presented.

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