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.
Discovering Nature’s Infrastructure Potential on Vancouver Island: “The long-term vision is to transform a decommissioned sawmill site on the Courtenay River into a valuable eco-asset corridor,” stated Project Watershed’s Jennifer Sutherst
“All the salmon stocks that are returning to spawn in the Tsolum River watershed or the Puntledge River watershed have to migrate past the site,” stated Jennifer Sutherst. “We want to take this community eyesore and turn it into an ecological asset. It’s really important to see that we’re going to be able to turn the site back to a natural functioning condition. Then it’s going to support fish and wildlife and be a community asset. We’re also going to have the opportunity to build in some flood attenuation capacity.”
Vision for Kus-kus-sum estuary restoration in the Comox Valley: “This is a generational moment to create a legacy. Kus-kus-sum shines a light for many estuary communities in the province,” stated Tim Ennis, Executive Director, Comox Valley Land Trust
“After nearly 75 years, tides may soon flow again over Kus-kus-sum’s shoreline,” wrote Tim Ennis. “This is a generational moment for the Comox Valley to create a legacy based not on conquering nature, but a new era of collaborating to restore our relationships with the land and each other. One of its greatest values is that it’s literally creating common ground where citizens can imagine together with First Nations partners what a healthier, more inclusive and sustainable future looks like.”
FLASHBACK TO 2008: “Development and watershed protection can be compatible. Early success on the ground has given us increasing confidence that the 50-year vision is within our grasp,” stated Kim Stephens in a presentation to the Urban Development Institute
“Urban land use has been degrading the natural environment for more than 100 years. Sit on that for a while. 100 years, perhaps more. Holy smokes. So what’s all this talk about developers and builders, the ultimate urban land users, protecting watersheds? It’s true. Developers who increase the amount of pervious surfaces on their sites keep rain on-site, delay runoff, and reduce flooding. City planners and engineers love this,” stated Marie Savage.
LOOK THROUGH THE WORTH LENS: “At the end of the day, community and citizen decisions about how much to invest in restoration of watershed function boil down to this aspect of human nature: ‘what is it worth to me?’,” stated Tim Pringle when he described the philosophy guiding the Ecological Accounting Process
“By providing a value for the land underlying the stream and riparian zone, stakeholders have a much more realistic idea of the worth of ecological services,” stated Tim Pringle. “This form of financial information can then be used by local government to develop strategies guided by ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’.” A key message, he said, is to draw a distinction between maintenance and management. “Maintenance prevents degradation, whereas management is about enhancement,” he said.
MIMIC NATURE, RESTORE THE WATER BALANCE, ADAPT TO A CHANGING CLIMATE: “The cumulative investment in sponge city projects in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan and other areas could reach $US300 billion by the end of 2020,” wrote Michael Standaert
“It’s a recognition that in arid areas of northern China, cities didn’t factor in heavy rains as they rapidly expanded and added roadways. That left sewer systems inadequate to deal with sudden storms or to capture rainfall for times of need. Huge storms have caused major damage and death in Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan and Nanjing in recent years,” wrote Michael Standaert. “Chinese cities join a growing number of communities around the world creating green infrastructure.”
Research Shows U.S. Cities Lose Tree Cover Just When They Need It Most: “And it takes a lot more than a few cities with million tree programs to replace the trees that get chewed up by office buildings and big box stores and parking lots,” stated William Sullivan, professor of landscape architecture
Urban tree planting programs—even the heavily promoted ‘million tree’ campaigns taking place in many U.S. cities—have not kept up with losses. Adding tree cover will require a shift to long-term thinking—especially to plan ways to make room for nature while also accommodating new growth. “It’s not enough to have a phenomenal world-class park three miles from your home. A tree needs to grow outside every window and doorway,” stated William Sullivan.
“Urban foresters, planners and decision-makers need to understand trends in urban forests so they can develop and maintain sufficient levels of tree cover – and the accompanying forest benefits – for current and future generations of citizens,” stated David Nowak, lead author for research undertaken by US Forest Service
The study builds on a finding that was identified by David Nowak and co-author Eric Greenfield in a ground-breaking 2012 study that found 17 out of 20 American cities had experienced significant tree loss. Nowak is worried about what will happen if the trend continues. “If it keeps going down, I think we’re going to be in trouble. Cities will warm up, we might have more pollution, people will be more unhealthy,” he said. There is robust evidence to suggest that trees are good for public health.
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.”
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.”