ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “One should view EAP as representing one point along a ‘green infrastructure continuum’. It is the latest evolution in an ongoing process in British Columbia that had its genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when providing historical context for green infrastructure ideas and practices
Note to Reader:
Development of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) began in 2015. The EAP vision was first unveiled in Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management, released in November 2015. This was the third in a series that builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.
Beyond the Guidebook 2015 introduced the notion of the “twin pillars” – that is, EAP and the Water Balance Methodology – for asset management strategies that achieve the goal of “sustainable watershed systems”. The stated objective for EAP: address the challenge of determining financial values for goods and services drawn from natural systems.
In Beyond the Guidebook 2015, it was stated that the best blend of engineered assets (infrastructure) and natural assets (that provide ecological goods and services) would support a robust long-term asset management plan and the required financial commitments.
The first article about EAP was titled Getting the Most from Infrastructure Assets: The Idea of Ecological Accounting and was published in the Winter (February) 2016 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter. It discussed the importance of devising an ecological accounting protocol and the valuation issues that arise. It was followed by an article on how the protocol would enable full risk and opportunity assessment of all assets owned by and available to local government.
Context is everything. Thus, one should view EAP as representing one point along a “green infrastructure continuum”. It is the latest evolution in an ongoing process in British Columbia that had its genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Below, Tim Pringle (the EAP Chair), provides historical context for milestone moments.
Expressed another way, he says, EAP fits within a bigger picture that recognizes that “water is part of everything” – weather, economy, environment and everything that we need to live.
An overview of how Green Infrastructure Ideas and Practices have evolved in British Columbia
EAP is a major milestone in a journey that had its’ genesis when Tim Pringle, as the Executive Director, convinced his Board of Governors at the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia (REFBC) to adopt a philosophy that “use and conservation of land are equal values”. It took him a year to make the case and achieve this outcome. From that point forward (1991), the REFBC funded work in the stewardship and conservation sectors applying this guiding philosophy.
Having this context provides essential understanding. The notion of equal values launched Tim Pringle on a career trajectory that has culminated with the EAP initiative. Suffice to say, he has thought long and hard about how to value the services provided by nature.
Upon retirement from the REFBC in 2010, Tim became the first President of PWSBC. He presently leads the EAP initiative. Through EAP, Tim Pringle has brought new and contemporary meaning to an old concept, namely the natural commons.
Looking Back: EAP Roots
“The Partnership for Water Sustainability and its leadership team have played key roles going back more than two decades in the development of green infrastructure ideas and practices in British Columbia. Their contributions are highlighted by Stormwater Planning: A Guideboook for British Columbia, released by the provincial government in 2002,” wrote Tim Pringle.
“Building on pioneer research at the University of Washington that correlated land use and stream health, the Guidebook formalized the Water Balance Methodology, a tool to support restoration of hydrological function where land use occurs.
“The philosophy and strategy of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) draws on those roots.”
To Learn More:
Download a copy of the Primer on Water Balance Methodology for Protecting Watershed Health, the fifth in a series of guidance documents that form the basis for knowledge-transfer via the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative (IREI). The foundation document for the series is Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.
East Clayton & UniverCity: Precedent-Setting!
“Two decades ago, and as case studies that informed the Guidebook process, the planning and design for East Clayton in Surrey and UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain stand out as the first large-scale “sustainable” residential communities in BC (and among the first in North America) based on use of green infrastructure concepts of land use. Capturing and retaining rainwater on site and protecting the hydrology was a priority in these processes,” explained Tim Pringle.
“Members of the East Clayton project advisory committee established in 1998 continued to collaborate after steering East Clayton to reality. By 2003 this included forming the Green Infrastructure Partnership (GIP) under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia.
HISTORICAL NOTE: The REFBC played a key role in funding the work of the East Clayton Advisory Committee (1998). Tim Pringle, helped draft a MOU which defined the roles of each funding agency. The REFBC granted monies for those expenditures that other agencies lacked the mandate to cover.
Looking Back: Green Infrastructure Defined
“In 2004, the GIP produced the Green Infrastructure Consultation Report, which described ‘green infrastructure as the ecological processes, both natural and engineered, that are the foundation for a healthy natural and built environment in communities’. The document is a record of the outcomes resulting from the launch event for the GIP in May 2004,” continued Tim Pringle.
“The outreach and continuing education program spearheaded by the GIP produced the Green Infrastructure Guide (2007) and Beyond the Guidebook: Context for Rainwater Management and Green Infrastructure in BC (2007). This was a dot connecting program, with the mantra being: Water sustainability will be achieved by implementing green infrastructure policies and practices.
“In 2010, the responsibilities of the GIP were assumed by the Partnership for Water Sustainability when it was incorporated as a society. The work of the Partnership remains focused on water sustainability issues / practices and on green infrastructure. EAP embodies what has been learned since 1998.”
EAP Looks at Creeksheds Through a Social Lens
“EAP uses the word ‘accounting’ in the sense of taking stock and understanding the worth of ecological services as the community uses them,” Tim Pringle emphasized. “Holding up this mirror reflects opportunities taken or missed and risks avoided or incurred. It asks the question; how well are we doing?
“This is a social perspective on the natural commons and the constructed commons. Residents and property owners use and expect to use both of these assets to support quality of life and property enjoyment.
“EAP analyses promotes balanced understanding of the role of the commons. It considers ecological systems and the services they provide as essential resources serving the intrinsic needs of nature and the demands of human communities.”
To Learn More:
Download a 4-page booklet titled An Introduction to the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP).
Download a copy of the Primer on the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) – A Methodology for Valuing the ‘Water Balance Services’ Provided by Nature, released in January 2019.