Flying on the Edge: Adaptive Coastal Governance and Shorebird Conservation in the Fraser River Estuary
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In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the Fraser River estuary is a critical site for international biodiversity conservation, particularly that of migratory shorebirds; is also plays a vital role in the coastal resilience of urban communities where millions of people live. Significant research is taking place on the Fraser River estuary addressing biodiversity conservation and coastal resilience planning. This research is only as effective as its ability to inform decision-making governing the estuary. As such, this study sought to answer the question: in examining planning for coastal resilience and migratory shorebird conservation, are current governance arrangement adequate to meet significant threats to the Fraser River estuary and surrounding communities The analysis in this study of the Fraser River's estuary's management is rooted in an evaluation of its governance system informed by an evaluative framework based on the principles established by the adaptive governance theory. Qualitative data on the Fraser River estuary governance system and the application of the adaptive governance evaluative framework was gathered through a series of semi-structured interviews with experts. By grounding the bounded system with an evaluative framework, the case study offers a broader contribution to the body of literature in advancing the understanding of similar governance situations. Creating, testing, and assessing this framework informed by interviews, the study contributes to a better understanding of best practices in applying the adaptive governance theory to assess coastal governance case studies effectively. It also identifies opportunities and gaps in the existing Fraser River estuary governance system, particularly around social learning within institutions and between institutions. Finally, it clarifies the role of biodiversity conservation in coastal resilience planning through the focus on migratory shorebird conservation, including outlining where there is synergy between the two goals and opportunities for collaboration. This study presents a robust assessment of the need for an independent entity to facilitate meaningful, effective, and inclusive collaboration among the many actors involved in the governance of the Fraser River estuary. Where limited coordination currently occurs on specific files, broad and meaningful collaboration across sectors is necessary to allow the governance system to prepare effectively for changing context proactively. This study presents a robust assessment of the need for an independent entity to facilitate meaningful, effective, and inclusive collaboration among the many actors involved in the governance of the Fraser River estuary. While limited coordination currently takes place on specific files, broad and meaningful collaboration across sectors is necessary to allow the governance system to be proactive in preparing effectively for a changing context.
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Emma Kirke (2023). Flying on the Edge: Adaptive Coastal Governance and Shorebird Conservation in the Fraser River Estuary. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/20013
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