Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

D. Scott Slocombe

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The St. Elias region of North America occupies portions of British Columbia, Alaska, and the Yukon Territory and comprises a network of public lands and protected areas managed by a variety of agencies. This thesis characterizes and analyzes the broad- scale, or regional, ecology of these lands and provides an assessment of the implications this has for ecosystem-based management—particularly as it relates to intergovernmental cooperation. A multi-stage, map-based, multidisciplinary process is used to synthesize information on the region’s physical, biological, and institutional environments. The fields of conservation biology and landscape ecology provide theoretical foundations for analysis. The ecological synthesis and analysis illustrates numerous ecosystem components that are shared throughout the entire St. Elias region as well as physical and biological features and processes that serve as linkages between the region’s parks and protected areas. Yet the synthesis and analysis also indicate that there are equally as many differences between the parks and protected areas, and that these areas are just as closely linked with surrounding unprotected areas. In combination, these results indicate that the greater St. Elias region actually represents the point at which several different regional-scale ecosystems converge, rather than a single, coherent ecological unit. These results suggest that an ecological foundation for improved cooperation between management agencies does exist, but not in the form of an integrated, region-wide initiative as originally anticipated. Instead, the regional ecology of the St. Elias Mountain Parks and surroundings seems to advocate a more process-oriented approach to management wherein the exact boundaries of management are of secondary importance to the development of a coordinated set of principles, goals, and objectives to guide planning and management. Nevertheless, defining spatially-oriented frameworks for integrated intergovernmental cooperation is seen as a key component of facilitating ecosystem-based management and five such areas are identified and recommended. The use of adaptive management and cumulative effects assessment are seen as valuable tools for use in ensuring the maintenance of ecological integrity and wilderness character of these areas and the region as a whole.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season