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Ecological Accounting Process

MUNICIPAL NATURAL ASSET MANAGEMENT IN BC: “We’re aiming to translate enthusiastic interest in our home-grown approach into real-world practice in municipalities and asset management organizations around the world,” says Emanuel Machado, CAO, Town of Gibsons


“We get it. It can feel incredibly daunting to implement a significant change to your established systems – even when there’s clear evidence that change will almost certainly help improve decision-making, reduce asset funding requirements and advance your community’s resilience to climate change over the long-term,” states Emanuel Machado. “That’s why the Town of Gibsons was first inspired to create “Advancing Municipal Natural Asset Management: The Town of Gibsons’ experience in financial planning and reporting” – otherwise known as ‘Advancing MNAM’.”

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ARTICLE: A pillar of Sustainable Watershed Systems, the Ecological Accounting Process has the potential to transform how communities make decisions about creekshed restoration (an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun (June 2, 2018)


Hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services. Thus, integration of the Partnership for Water Sustainability’s work within the BC Framework should accelerate implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach at the heart of the Partnership’s ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’ program. “The Ecological Accounting Process, EAP, establishes what the definable benefits of ecological services derived from creekshed hydrology are, what they may be worth to stakeholders, and how they may be maintained and enhanced,” wrote Tim Pringle.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “The worth of a creekshed is a package of ecological services made possible by the hydrology,” stated Tim Pringle, Chair, Ecological Accounting Process (EAP), an initiative of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia


“EAP would help stakeholders / managers determine whether or not they should change practices and adopt new strategies regarding the ecological systems in the stream corridor, riparian zone and the entire watershed. EAP would contribute to a range of stakeholder interests and needs,” stated Tim Pringle. “Taking action would depend on what they think the creekshed is worth. The next step is doing. A strategy is the path to success, and becomes our primary interface with the world.”

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DOWNLOAD: Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) for Watershed Assessment (released at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium, April 2018)


“The Symposium provided a platform for a call for action because adapting to climate change requires transformation in how we value nature and service land. An informed stewardship sector can be a catalyst for action on Vancouver Island and beyond, through collaboration with local government,” stated Kim Stephens. “Tim Pringle shared demonstration application anecdotes about EAP, a whole-system view of watersheds that assesses hydrology in order to accurately describe ecological services.”

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Early outcomes of ‘Ecological Accounting Process’ showcased at Blue Ecology Workshop (November 2017) – “This unique approach accounts for the ecological services made possible by watershed hydrology,” said Tim Pringle, EAP Chair


“Initially, we saw EAP as a tool (i.e. ‘the protocol’) that would help practitioners calculate the opportunity cost of balancing ecological services with drainage infrastructure. However, our thinking has evolved over the past year. Testing the approach through two demonstration applications has resulted in this defining conclusion: EAP is a process, not a protocol. Thus, we are rebranding EAP as the Ecological Accounting Process,” stated Tim Pringle.

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Making Nature Count in the Town of Gibsons – celebrating and showcasing 5 years of leading by example


“Our eco-assets journey began in 2012,” stated Emanuel Machado. “The triggering event was the release of the Gibsons Aquifer Mapping Study. Shortly afterwards the Town changed the definition of infrastructure and formally acknowledged the need to understand and manage (eco)systems and not simply individual infrastructure assets. This action led directly to the Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy.”

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The latest milestones in the ‘green infrastructure’ journey focus on the services provided by nature,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“It is important to recognize that we are all on a journey, and this journey did not just start yesterday. This journey has a 20 year history,” stated Kim Stephens. “Post-2015, there are two initiatives in play. One is the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative. The other is the Ecological Accounting Protocol Initiative. They have the potential to achieve complementary outcomes. It is important to establish precedents. We learn from precedents.”

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The engineer cannot tell you what value a natural asset has, nor how important its function is, nor how to maintain that function,” stated Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority, Partnership for Water Sustainability


“We have been working on an ecological accounting protocol approach that recognizes the importance of the stream in its natural state. It is not a thing that carries stormwater,” stated Jim Dumont. “We asked the question – how can we superimpose a drainage function while maintaining that natural function? This is a different way of thinking from saying that we have a drainage system in which we want to have some natural features. ”

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics,” stated Michelle Molnar, environmental economist, speaking for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI)


“There has been a lot of work done over the last couple of decade to start to incorporate nature and nature’s services in economics. And the work that we are doing in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative is helping to move this along.,” stated Michelle Molnar. “We are working to test how nature can substitute, how it can safeguard, and how it can complement existing engineered infrastructure systems. “

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “Shifting baseline syndrome, whole-system approach, and cathedral thinking – those are the three thoughts that I hope you will leave with in your head,” stated Kim Stephens in his keynote address on the role that ecosystem services can play in an infrastructure strategy


“With each new generation, your view of the world is based on the world as you see it now. Those images of ‘now’ are in your head. So, when change happens, you have no knowledge of what happened before you,” stated Kim Stephens. “Our approach in British Columbia is to say ‘hey, we can make a difference’. We have to think differently about how we develop on the land. The experience and tools that we are developing is key to reversing the trend and making things better.Communities can re-set the ecological baseline.”

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