Grizzly Bear conservation in the Foothills Model Forest: appraisal of a collaborative ecosystem management effort
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In west-central Alberta, Canada, an ambitious collaborative conservation program for grizzly bears began in 1999, after extensive controversy over the Cheviot coal mine project and successful negotiation of a unique federal–provincial strategic framework for grizzly bear conservation. Unfortunately that program was effectively terminated without any substantive implementation of its research findings. The regional ecosystem approach for conserving grizzlies in the Foothills Model Forest originated in federal and provincial legislative processes but proved vulnerable to shifting goals and containment by a single powerful participant. This case study’s results demonstrate vulnerabilities of the ecosystem management approach to conserving large carnivores. To enable other such conservation efforts to achieve their goals, we recommend supporting emergent small-scale initiatives and designing collaborative institutions that limit the potential for containment of decision processes.
KeywordsAlberta Cheviot coal mine Collaboration Ecological integrity Ecosystem-based management Environmental assessment Foothills Model Forest Grizzly bear Jasper National Park Policy sciences Ursus arctos
Financial support for this research was provided by The Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Wilfrid Laurier University, Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Environment Fund, a TransCanada Pipelines Graduate Award, and the Alberta Conservation Association. We thank the study participants, our student transcribers, the Palisades Centre in Jasper National Park, and many other people and organizations who supported this work.
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