Making Sense of Mitigation Used to Address Industrial Effects on Wildlife in Canadian Environmental Assessments
Elvin, Sandra Sarah
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Within a given industrial project, adverse environmental effects are a likely occurrence. Current environmental sustainability doctrine in Canada suggests that adverse environmental effects need to be adequately addressed in order to be avoided or minimized. The Environmental Assessment (EA) process has been developed to provide a systematic means for effects analysis and to cultivate mitigation programs to offset adverse effects. However, the progress of EAs often leads to development of industry with inadequate regard for mitigation for wildlife and their habitats. To better understand the mechanisms of mitigation programs used to offset effects to wildlife in the Canadian EA process, I established three studies consisting of quantitative and qualitative methods of inquiry. In the first study, I interviewed mitigation experts on their use and perceptions of success of various mitigation programs. I found that programs used by experts in different occupation groups differ in terms of frequency of use. Further, the overall pattern for perception of success of mitigation programs remained consistent. Experts were hesitant to label any mitigation program as reliably successful in offsetting adverse environmental effects. Second, I examined the role of an informational tool in informing EAs and subsequent mitigation. Using a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis, I evaluated the telemetry tool. I found that a specific set of support systems is needed to implement telemetry on a useful basis. Last, I used data from experts’ knowledge interviews to unearth trends in mitigation practices. I used this information to develop policy and operational recommendations for improving the Canadian EA process. I conclude this dissertation with a synthesis chapter that demonstrates the contributions of these studies, and provides suggestions for future research.