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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Developing indicators for human well-being in an ecosystem-based management context : a case study of Haida Gwaii Kent, Hannah Patterson


Ecosystem-based management (EBM) includes both ecological integrity and human well-being, although it is not clear how human well-being should be measured in an EBM context. Despite efforts to view EBM holistically, the human component is often overlooked or reduced to economic indicators that do not capture the full range of values held by the people affected by EBM policies. The purpose of this case study is to explore, in a region recently participating in EBM planning and policy implementation, human well-being indicators of importance to local residents. Haida Gwaii, an island archipelago located approximately 90 km off the coast of British Columbia (B.C.), Canada provides a particularly compelling case study, as the implementation of EBM on Haida Gwaii includes co-management between the Haida Nation and the Province of B.C. Using semi-structured interviews and constructivist grounded theory methodology, I identified seven categories important for human well-being on Haida Gwaii: employment and economic stability; relationship with the land, ocean and air; health; governance and access to services; culture and community; educated and engaged citizens; and overall well-being. Within these general categories, I also identified 46 specific human well-being indicators important to measure on Haida Gwaii. In addition, I identified concerns study participants had with human well-being indicators developed on the North and Central Coast of British Columbia. The important categories, sub-categories and indicators were integrated to produce three theoretical concepts that characterize what is important for human well-being on Haida Gwaii: 1) Relationship with the land, ocean and air 2) Access to benefits from natural resource development, and 3) Building resilient communities and human capital. Communities working to develop human well-being indicators in similar EBM contexts may find these concepts useful in their work.

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