“That wetland isn’t just pretty – it’s quantifiable infrastructure,” wrote Roy Brooke in a Globe & Mail op-ed

Town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast near Metro Vancouver. Howe Sound is in the background.

Town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast near Metro Vancouver. Howe Sound is in the background.

Nature is a fundamental component of a municipal infrastructure system

roy_brooke_trimmed_120p“Nature can be a handy thing for humans to have around. And, sometimes, when we simply get out of its way and let it do its job, the results can be astounding,” wrote Roy Brooke in a commentary published by The Globe and Mail newspaper in its Report on Business.

“Where nature provides equivalent services to engineered infrastructure, it should be accorded at least similar management and protection,” he emphasizes.

To Learn More:

Download That wetland isn’t just pretty – it’s quantifiable infrastructure to read the complete article in The Globe and Mail newspaper.

Roy Brooke is a sustainability professional who has held leadership positions on three continents His experience includes scaling-up environmental sustainability investment and programming in Africa, strengthening international environmental governance regimes, including in the Middle East, and serving as Director of Sustainability for the City of Victoria between 2011 – 2013.

Town of Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy

In his commentary, Roy Brooke singles out the Town of Gibsons for declaring nature its most important asset.

“The Town of Gibsons has developed and is implementing an Eco-Asset Strategy which recognizes the role of nature as a fundamental component of the municipal infrastructure system, leading to a greater understanding of the value of ecosystems services and improved financial and operational management plans of the community’s natural assets,” reports Emanuel Machado, Chief Administrative Officer.

Emanuel Machado_2014_3_120p“The Eco-Asset Strategy is a financial and municipal management approach that complements strategies to maintain, replace and build both traditional engineered assets (roads, storm sewers) and engineered ‘green’ assets, such as ‘rain gardens’. Moreover, the Eco-Asset Strategy can support municipal climate change adaptation and resilience building efforts.”

To Learn More:

Read “Nature is a fundamental component of a municipal infrastructure system,” says Emanuel Machado, Town of Gibsons Chief Administrative Officer

Town of Gibsons_Eco-Asset Strategy_principles

Ecological Accounting – an idea whose time has arrived

“Strategies for sustainable service delivery based on asset management can be more successful over the life cycle of infrastructure if both engineered and natural civil services are utilized.  The challenge is how to calculate the most effective blend of these options,” notes Tim Pringle, Past-President of the Partnership for Water 2013-AGM_Tim-Pringle2_120pSustainability in BC. He is Chair of the Partnership’s Ecological Accounting Protocol Project.

“Of course the need for measurement and valuation is paramount.  While engineered services involve expenditures that are readily accounted, those drawn from nature do not have commonly accepted measures and values.”

Ecological Accounting versus Ecological Economics

“Ecological accounting differs from ecological economics,” continues Tim Pringle. “The latter is a field of enquiry well- researched by many agencies and scholars. The Canadian Society for Ecological Economics and similar international organizations work to influence policy and standards related to the recognition and imputed value of natural assets and the services they provide to human settlement, flora and fauna.”

“Ecological accounting would deal with specific civil services drawn from natural assets in local watersheds and utilized at various sites and/or throughout a community.  There appears to be little existing research to describe the cost of managing natural assets compared to engineered assets. Ecological accounting faces the challenge of monetizing natural assets and services in a way that can be compared to engineered assets and services.”

Watersheds as Infrastructure Assets

“The Ecological Accounting Protocol, as proposed, would recognize that watersheds are in fact infrastructure assets; and furthermore, that a watershed provides ‘water balance services’. These can also be described as civil services,” concludes Tim Pringle.

To Learn More:

Download Getting the Most from Infrastructure Assets: The idea of ecological accounting, an article by Tim Pringle and published in the January 2016 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter.