ARTICLE: “EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, considers the entirety of the stream corridor system—a ‘natural commons’—and seeks to ensure that streams survive in an urban or urbanizing setting, without suffering from degradation of stream channels and streamside riparian setback zones” (Water Canada magazine, May-June 2022)
Note to Reader:
In 2016, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia embarked on a 6-year program of applied research to evolve and operationalize the Ecological Accounting Process methodology and metrics through collaboration with willing local governments. The program involved 9 case studies and 13 local governments.
In June 2022, Water Canada magazine featured an article about EAP by Kim Stephens, Tim Pringle, and Ray Fung. Titled “The Ecological Accounting Process – A BC Collaborative Initiative”, it paints a picture for a national audience of a strategy to help communities decide how much to invest in stream protection. It is also described two EAP projects, one on Vancouver Island and the other in the Lower Mainland.
5 ways EAP addresses stream system degradation
“The degradation of stream channels and streamside riparian setback zones have driven the methodology and have established the metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. The methodology and metrics focus on the land underlying the natural asset. In the case of stream systems, this is the setback zone defined in B.C. provincial legislation,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair.
“The essence of EAP is to discover the Natural Commons Asset (NCA) financial value of the stream. Defined in the Riparian Area Protection Regulation Act, the NCA is the stream channel plus the 30m setback zone on each side.”
“The NCA financial value can be readily quantified and is expressed as $ per km of stream. The annual budget for maintenance and management (M&M) of a stream is 1% of the NCA value. The concept of the Riparian Deficit interprets what the NCA number means.”
1. What is measured gets managed
What happens on the land matters: After all, what is measured gets managed. EAP provides local governments with a guiding philosophy, method, and metrics to determine the financial values for a stream corridor and adjoining setback zone. This is the Natural Commons Asset value.
2. What is understood can be implemented
EAP finds the NCA financial value which quantifies the extent of land use intrusion into the setback zone. A higher dollar value means greater intrusion and reduced riparian area function. This is the environmental equivalent of the infrastructure liability (deficit) for constructed assets, such as underground utilities and buildings. The NCA value provides environmental planners with a starting point for a balanced conversation with engineers and accountants about the services that natural and constructed assets both provide.
3. What has worth has value
EAP interweaves financial, social, and ecological perspectives within a single number to establish the financial case for a stream corridor system. EAP adds to the conceptual framework for a riparian area maintenance and management strategy with new insights about financial metrics. For example, a price per metre of channel length as a measure of the NCA value, and the community investment in the maintenance and management as a measure of the stream’s worth.
4. What is considered can be reconsidered
Riparian integrity is more than a regulatory setback width. EAP considers the 200-metre zone beyond the centre of the stream and asks the question: What is the quality of the riparian and woodland vegetation?
5.What benefits one can benefit all
The EAP methodology focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes, modified hydrology, and have led to present-day community perceptions of the perceived worth of a stream and/or other water assets, and the ecological services those assets provide. The EAP methodology deals with the parcel because this is how communities regulate settlement and growth.
To Learn More:
To read the complete article, download a copy of “The Ecological Accounting Process – A BC Collaborative Initiative”. The graphic below distils five key ideas that underpin EAP. These cascading concepts create a mind-map