Ecological Accounting Process / A BC Strategy for Community Investment in the Natural Commons: “Ecological services are not merely residual outcomes of land use; rather, they are core local government services,” states Tim Pringle, EAP Chair

Note to Reader:

EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, uses the parallel concepts of the ‘NATURAL COMMONS’ and the ‘CONSTRUCTED COMMONS’ to enable elected persons, local government staff, practitioners and residents to consider ecological services and use of land (development) as EQUALLY IMPORTANT.

EAP places emphasis on having a solid basis for budgeting expenditures for maintenance and management (M&M) of ecological assets, such as water pathways in local creeksheds. Maintenance means ‘prevent or avoid degradation’. Management means ‘improve the condition of ecological assets’.

A BC Strategy for Community Investment in the Natural Commons

“Local governments have existing tools in the form of policies and legislation for ‘maintenance and management’ (M&M) of ecological assets, which are used for infrastructure services. What they lack are a pragmatic methodology and meaningful metrics for effective decision-making and implementation,” states Tim Pringle, EAP Chair.

“Like constructed infrastructure assets, ecological assets provide services to support quality of life and property enjoyment.  Local governments need ‘real numbers’, not imputed values, which will enable informed community investment decisions for M&M. But there is no common method of identifying ecological services or determining the budget required for M&M.

“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, has a philosophy, strategy and valuation methodology. EAP is a recent milestone along the ‘green infrastructure continuum’. The lynch-pin concept for EAP is the ‘natural commons’.

“EAP provides local governments with a methodology and metrics that have not previously been available.”

To Learn More:

Download a copy of the  Primer on the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) – A Methodology for Valuing the ‘Water Balance Services’ Provided by Nature.

Download the booklet: An Introduction to EAP.

Natural Commons Provides Core Municipal Services

“EAP defines the ‘natural commons’ (streams and other natural systems) and the ‘constructed commons’ (roads, storm sewers, potable water systems, etc.) as community resources shared by residents and property owners. Both are core services essential to social, economic and environmental well-being,” emphasizes Tim Pringle.

“The idea of a natural commons supporting a package of ecological services which the community wants and expects to have implies that approved plans for land development should not result in ecological services being merely residual outcomes – that is, the community should be happy with what is left. Rather, their M&M should be planned as core municipal services.

“Or simply put, ecological services are not merely residual outcomes of land use; rather, they are core local government services. Thus, just as local government infrastructure (constructed commons) comprises core services, so does the package of ecological services derived from a natural commons.”

Staged Implementation

“EAP is about applying existing tools more successfully to protect and manage ecological assets,” continues Tim Pringle. “The Partnership for Water Sustainability is branding EAP as ‘A BC Strategy for Investing in the Natural Commons’. Testing, refining and mainstreaming EAP is a 3-stage program:

  • Stage 1, undertaken during the period 2016 thr0ugh 2018, demonstrated EAP relevance to local government.
  • Stage 2, undertaken in 2019, resulted in working definitions and consistent application of EAP methodology.
  • Stage 3 mainstreaming is to be implemented in 2020 and 2021.

“Mainstreaming would comprise six more EAP Demonstrations, for a grand total of ten, that cover a broad range of land use situations within the Georgia Basin (Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver) – urban, suburban, semi-rural and rural.

“The vision for the Stage 3 program is to create a ‘self-help’ way of doing business in the local government context. Local governments would then deploy solutions themselves, and rely less without reliance on outside service providers. Peer-based learning and sharing ultimately holds the key to mainstreaming EAP.”

Proof of Concept

The Town of Comox is the ‘proof of concept’ for demonstrating the applicability and application of EAP. Brooklyn Creek in Comox was one of two EAP Demonstration Applications completed in Stage 1.

The Town changed its Draft Anderton Corridor Neighbourhood Concept Plan in mid-project to enhance the ‘PACKAGE OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES. The Town recognized that ecological services are core municipal services. All plan elements were redesigned around the package of ecological services.

To Learn More:

Download Town of Comox – A ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Citizen Science in Action & Reconnecting Hydrology and Ecology through the Water Balance Approach to Land Development.

And click on the image below to download a PDF copy of the “10 Key Messages”.