REPORT ON: “Application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, to Shelly Creek for Financial Valuation of Ecological Services and Worth” (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC; released April 2020)

Note to Reader:

Under the umbrella of the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Education Initiative, this publication is the 3rd in a series about demonstration applications for the “Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) – A BC Process for Community Investment in the Natural Commons”

The EAP program is multi-year (2016-2021) and multi-stage to test, refine and mainstream the EAP methodology and metrics. The Stage 2 applications are Shelly Creek in the City of Parksville and Regional District of Nanaimo, and Kilmer Creek in the District of North Vancouver. The Shelly findings are introduced in the article below.

Shelly Creek is one of five streams tributary to the Englishman River, a major watershed system on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Shelly Creek flows through the Nanaimo Lowland Eco-region. The survival of Coho salmon in the Englishman River depends on a healthy Shelly Creek. In 1999, the Englishman River was declared to be one of the most endangered rivers in BC.

This EAP Demonstration Application was undertaken in collaboration with the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES); and was jointly funded by UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities), the provincial government, and the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

The parallel concepts of the NATURAL COMMONS and the CONSTRUCTED COMMONS enable residents, elected persons, and practitioners to consider ecological services and use of land (development) as equally important.

Opportunities to Enhance and Restore the Shelly Creek Natural Commons on Vancouver Island

“The Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) considers use and conservation of land to be equally important values.  Historically, land use and property development in our communities have been given priority over ecological systems such as streams.  Too often the result has been remnant ecological services that fall far short of the benefits that these natural commons can provide,” states Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, in the foreword to the Shelly Creek report.

“This study of Shelly Creek addresses the condition of a typical 1st order stream on the east coast of Vancouver Island.  Some notable conclusions emerged.

“One non-regulatory and two non-governmental initiatives lead current study and community interest in Shelly Creekshed as an ecological system and a natural commons.   Their work assists local government to consider the entire creekshed.  Local government may set policy and codify land use regulations, but its’ work must respond to proposals for subdivision and/or development of specific parcels or sites. The three community agencies address the stream, riparian ecosystem and creekshed.

“As a result of alterations to the hydrology of the creekshed, the Shelly Creek ‘riparian ecosystem’ has been reduced to a number of ‘riparian zones’ as defined in regulations.

“The research findings suggest that the diminution of stream functions gradually will draw the attention of property owners and the community to the “no harm” rule in land appraisal.

“To over simplify, in the case of a stream (natural commons) adjacent property owners expect its ecological services to have a positive effect on parcel values. The community may rely on the stream system being in good functioning condition as a feature in parks, a natural area, etc. Adjacent property owners have an obligation to recognize these values and avoid activities on their property that might harm the stream and have a negative impact on parcel values.”

To Learn More:

To read the report in its entirety, download a copy of Application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, to Shelly Creek for Financial Valuation of Ecological Services and Worth.