Community-Based Environmental Management in Atlantic Canada: The Impacts and Spheres of Influence of the Atlantic Coastal Action Program
The Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) is a unique, community-based program initiated by Environment Canada in 1991 to help Atlantic Canadians restore and sustain watersheds and adjacent coastal areas. ACAP is the eastem-most Environment Canada Ecosystem Initiative. The ACAP family is currently made up of 14 ecosystem-based organizations in the four Atlantic provinces. Each one of these non-profit organizations operates independently, but is formally linked under the umbrella of ACAP to represent a force stronger than the individual parts. In Environment Canada's experience, the program consistently demonstrates the value of a community-based approach and produces results on an ecosystem basis. This paper will examine some of the impacts of ACAP in terms of economics, credible community science, and environmental results which most often align with Environment Canada's objectives. It will explore the influences of the community-based approach to environmental management on multiple scales (local, regional, etc.). Through examples, the paper will demonstrate the effectiveness of ACAP in influencing some of the policies, programs and attitudes of various levels of government and industry in the region, as well as describe how the community-based model has been exported internationally. The paper will conclude with a discussion on a planned path forward for ACAP.