SYNTHESIS REPORT ON ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, A BC STRATEGY FOR COMMUNITY INVESTMENT IN STREAM SYSTEMS: “The EAP story is about a journey, one that began circa 1990. Three decades later, parallel tracks have converged in the form of EAP. It has been a building blocks process,” stated Kim Stephens when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a guidance document flowing from a 6-year program of applied research (June 2022)
Note to Reader:
In 2016, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia embarked upon a 6-year program of applied research to evolve EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, through a 3-stage building blocks process of testing, refining, and mainstreaming the methodology and metrics for financial valuation of stream systems. The program involved 9 case studies and 13 local governments and yielded 19 “big ideas” or foundational concepts. In the edition of Waterbucket eNews published on June 14, 2022, the Partnership announced release of its Synthesis Report on the Ecological Accounting Process, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems.
How much should communities invest in protection of stream systems?
“Know your history. Understand the context. These are key thoughts, and they provide perspective for the story of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, as told in the Synthesis Report. EAP comprises five cascading concepts (image below),” wrote Kim Stephens, Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability, in the preface to Beyond the Guidebook 2022: EAP, a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems.
Building Blocks Process
“The EAP story is about a journey, one that began circa 1990 for pioneers working on parallel stream protection and restoration initiatives in British Columbia and Washington State. Three decades later, these parallel tracks have converged in the form of EAP. It has been a building blocks process requiring commitment, patience, and perseverance by many.”
“EAP provides local governments with the philosophy, methodology and metrics they need to make the financial case for stream systems. Maintenance and management (M&M) of stream systems can now be integrated into a Local Government Finance Strategy for sustainable infrastructure funding.”
The Riparian Deficit
“We can draw a direct line between EAP and the Fish Protection Act, passed in 1997 and re-named the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation Act in 2016. Circa 1990, Tim Pringle framed the challenge in terms that are still applicable:
“If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still being degraded? Why do we still see practices that are embedded in land use policy and regulation that are 50 years old in some cases? How do we change that?”
“The philosophy that ‘use and conservation of land are equal values’ launched Tim Pringle on a career trajectory that has culminated with his breakthrough accomplishment in leading the EAP initiative. This 6-year program of applied research to test, refine and mainstream EAP provides local government with a path forward to address the Riparian Deficit.”
“The Riparian Deficit is the environmental equivalent of the Infrastructure Funding Gap. It puts the environmental perspective on an equal footing with the engineering and accounting perspectives. This is game-changing.”
“The Partnership mission is to develop tools and resources to help communities reconnect hydrology and stream ecology, by design. This includes a science-informed road map for restoring stream system integrity. Now it is up to communities to operationalize policy objectives spelled out in Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan.”
Addressing the Elephant in the Room
“An elephant in the room is the question of how to create a situation where the environmental perspective is on an equal footing with the engineering and accounting perspectives. Only then can there be an effective conversation about annual budgets for maintenance and management (M&M) of assets, whether those are constructed assets or the natural component of the Drainage Service,” added Kim Stephens.
“For an inter-departmental conversation to be outcome-oriented, there must be a real number to focus attention on what is at stake. The Riparian Deficit is that metric. It enables local government to pose and answer the question: What will change when EAP analyses provide financial values for natural assets such as streams?”
To Learn More:
Download a copy of Ecological Accounting Process, A B.C. Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems (2022) – the Synthesis Report is a distillation of over 1000 pages of case study documentation into a storyline that is conversational and written for a continuum of audiences that includes land use practitioners, asset managers, stream stewards, and local government decision-makers.
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