UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Northern land use planning : a context for wildlife habitat management and conservation in the Beaufort Sea-Mackenzie Delta Region Rueggeberg, Harriet


This thesis focusses on the conflict between the land use requirements of oil and gas development and wildlife habitat in the Beaufort Sea-Mackenzie Delta region, and how it is being resolved by the federal government. It is argued that even if values associated with wildlife and wildlife habitat were adequately recognized at the operational level, the government's mechanisms for land use planning and management are inadequate to ensure the long-term conservation of important wildlife resources. Specifically, the objectives of the thesis are: • to determine criteria for a northern land use planning and management regime that would ensure that it is capable of recognizing wildlife habitat as an important land use; • to analyze existing institutional mechanisms and government activities in light of these criteria; • to determine where changes in the planning/management regime are necessary. The relevant features of the current land administration regime and land use interests north of 60° are described. As well, an on-going land use conflict in the Beaufort Sea region is documented to illustrate how government deals with such issues; that is, the 'real' policy regarding wildlife habitat and industrial development in northern land use decisions. Gulf-Canada Resources Incorporated's proposal and application to construct a deep water harbour facility at Stokes Point on the north Yukon coast serves as the case example. In comparing the current land administration regime and government actions regarding Gulf's proposal to the criteria that are suggested for an idealized land use planning and management system, it is concluded that: • the federal government lacks a clearly articulated policy which indicates land and resource use priorities in the North. • although it has stated that the establishment of a northern land use planning process is a high priority, DIAND's efforts to date have not been successful in this regard. There is as yet no well-defined approach to northern land use planning through which major land use decisions can be dealt with in a systematic and comprehensive manner. • although it is charged with administering land and resources north of 60°, the commitment of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) to protecting the natural environment and maintaining the integrity of wildlife habitat in the Beaufort Sea-Mackenzie Delta region is in doubt. • DIAND has also failed to adhere to principles of cooperation and 'due process' that are valued in an open and comprehensive land use planning process. Therefore, the following measures are recommended to improve northern land use planning and management in the interests of effective wildlife habitat management and conservat ion. Land use planning: • DIAND should continue its efforts, in cooperation with territorial governments and native organizations, to establish an accepted land use planning process. This process should be in place before further major development proposals are considered. DIAND should then review, and amend where appropriate, the elements of the current land administration in light of goals and principles established under this comprehensive planning process. Wildlife habitat conservation: • A land use planning process for the North should be able to recognize wildlife habitat as an important, and where necessary, highest priority land use. Incorporating a regional habitat identification and zoning strategy into a land use planning process is one method of achieving this recognition. Policy development: • Simultaneous to developing a northern land use planning process, DIAND is also formulating a northern conservation strategy. Clearly these two policies are conceptually and functionally related, and their development should be closely integrated. Northern Yukon: • Values and priorities regarding land use in northern Yukon should be openly reviewed and assessed. If it is resolved that wildlife habitat should remain as a primary land use, it is suggested that a park, national wildlife area or combination thereof be established in conjunction with native land claim agreements in the region.

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