Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Jerry Hall

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


A need exists in Ontario for improved management of land and water resources. In addition the need for increased integration within and among the agencies responsible for these resources is imperative. Between these two resources is the riparian zone, for which riparian vegetative buffer zones are a recognized Best Management Practice (BMP) for water quality improvement. However, the problem remains that each agency views buffers from a particular perspective. Hence, butters are being implemented primarily for a single purpose without considering the multiple use of buffers. To achieve an integrated management framework for riparian buffers, it is necessary to evaluate the institutional arrangements (legal, administrative, financial) that currently exist in the province of Ontario for buffers. This is to determine opportunities and constraints to integrated riparian buffer management. The recent changes in land use planning in Ontario and the increase in watershed planning studies provide an opportunity to create a management framework for riparian buffers among the institutional actors. Given these opportunities and a need to coordinate activities, it is necessary to determine if an integrated approach can be applied to a riparian buffer management framework. To this end, an institutional analysis is undertaken to examine the applicable provincial and municipal agencies operating in the Grand River watershed in southern Ontario. The analytical framework considers five aspects: context, legitimation, functions, structures, and organizational culture and attitudes. The results of the institutional analysis indicate that several statutes, including the Planning Act, Weed Control Act, and the Fisheries Act, influence buffers although there is limited buffer policy and limited financial assistance to promote buffer creation. Nonetheless, agency integration for buffers requires improvement, and several opportunities exist to facilitate integration. These opportunities include the establishment of a lead agency to coordinate buffer establishment and management, the use of watershed planning, and the creation of a common policy or strategy for buffers among the various agencies for buffers. Watershed planning is becoming more widely adopted in Ontario, and is an excellent mechanism to integrate buffer management.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season