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EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process

REPORT ON: “Bowker Creek – A Natural Commons in the Capital Regional District: Using the Ecological Accounting Process to Establish the Financial Case for the Stream” – the sixth in the series of EAP demonstration application projects undertaken as part of a multi-year program of applied research by the Partnership for Water Sustainability (October 2021)


“Decision-making is the key. In the City of Victoria, we are creating new ways of making decisions about what we do with our assets, whether they be natural or hard. Embracing EAP would introduce a structured asset planning approach. It provides metrics for integrating natural assets into the municipal infrastructure inventory and place them on an equal footing with constructed/engineered assets. This provides a starting point for a balanced conversation about the services that the natural and constructed assets both provide. EAP will be used for Bowker Creek, and for future planning and decision-making,” stated Trina Buhler.

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EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: “EAP provides communities with a philosophy, pragmatic methodology and metrics to make the financial case for annual investment to prevent degradation and improve the condition of ecological assets that constitute a stream corridor system,” stated Kim Stephens, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC released its report on the Financial Case for Bowker Creek in the Capital Regional District (October 2021)


“Use of EAP to establish the ‘financial case for the stream’ would put maintenance and management (M&M) of stream corridor systems on an equal footing with constructed assets (municipal infrastructure). Once local governments embrace a guiding philosophy that ecological services and use of land for development are equally important, then the next step is for them to include M&M budgets for stream systems in their Asset Management Plans. This would begin the process of reconnecting hydrology and stream ecology by design.” stated Kim Stephens.

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DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Bowker Creek in the Capital Regional District, completed in October 2021


“Asset management and ecological frameworks are merging closer than ever before. This is good news as Saanich continues to catalogue and valuate storm water natural assets with the intent of establishing resources to steward both hard, linear infrastructure and natural systems alike. Modern asset methodologies can sync well with other frameworks, such as EAP, which provides additional tools and metrics to improve maintenance and management across the District, and in collaboration with our regional partners on such initiatives as the Bowker Creek Initiative,” stated Lesley Hatch.

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EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: “With all the talk about integrating natural assets into asset management, the players forget that nature is a system. They focus too much on specific aspects of the system, rather than its interrelated functions,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a downloadable resource about the EAP program as part of its Living Water Smart Series (October 19, 2021)


“Once communities make the mental transition to view ecological services as core local government services, the change in mind-set should lead to this question: how can we do things better? EAP interweaves financial, social, and ecological perspectives within a single number to establish the financial case for a stream corridor system. This aggregate number 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. This alone is a game-changer,” stated Tim Pringle.

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IN MEMORIAM: “The University of Sheffield’s John Henneberry (1952-2021) was a source of inspiration for me when we were initially developing the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. He identified the same methodological problems that we experienced in quantifying the financial value of ecological services. Natural systems do not dissect conveniently in order to be quantified and given financial value,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair (October 2021)


The range of issues John Henneberry (1952-2021) tackled was formidable. He worked alongside botanists, hydrologists, psychologists as well as economists, political scientists, geographers, planners and landscape architects, impressing all colleagues with his keenness to work with them and to grasp debates in other disciplines. He was especially good at motivating colleagues and bringing them together to work on socially relevant research. His approach was an inspiration to all. It was also why John was a great teacher and much admired by all his students.

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DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: “EAP bridges a gap. It provides local government with a methodology and metrics for integrating natural assets, notably stream corridor systems, into municipal infrastructure,” states Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative, when explaining A Busy Reader’s Guide to Understanding EAP (August 2021)


“The EAP methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream system in the landscape. In connecting the dots, the EAP program supports local governments adopting an integrated approach to life-cycle maintenance and management, or M&M, of the drainage service. The integrated approach recognizes that constructed infrastructure and stream systems are inter-connected components of the drainage service. Effective M&M of stream systems requires local government commitment backed by line items in annual budgets,” stated Tim Pringle.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “Through the building blocks approach that has defined the EAP program, we have reached a point where a number of hydra-like concepts have been tamed to become the Riparian Deficit,” stated Tim Pringle (August 2021)


“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 worth of the stream or creekshed and the ecological services it provides. A whole-system understanding is the starting point for developing meaningful metrics. When land development takes place, there is necessarily a riparian deficit. What is not measured at all, by anyone, is the ‘riparian deficit’ from the land use perspective. EAP measures the deficit. This is the most useful output,” stated Tim Pringle.

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DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: “The methodology and metrics for measuring the Riparian Deficit have been tested, refined and mainstreamed through a building blocks process that is founded on EAP demonstration applications,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (August 2021)


“EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, bridges a gap. It provides local government with a methodology and metrics for integrating natural assets, notably stream corridor systems, into municipal infrastructure. EAP uses real numbers, not hypothetical assumptions, to establish the financial value of the stream corridor system. In a nutshell, the EAP methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream system in the landscape. EAP focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes and modified hydrology,” stated Kim Stephens.

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“Nature is often just seen as kind of in the way of prosperity. What we’re saying is that nature is crucial to prosperity,” stated Gretchen Daily, a professor of biology at Stanford University


Gretchen Daily has spent more than 30 years developing the scientific underpinnings of natural capital and is the co-founder of the Natural Capital Project. “For decades people have been noting the shortcomings of GDP, but politically it’s always been too fraught to remedy. It’s time to deploy something new,” stated Gretchen Daily. The idea of Gross Ecosystem Product is, in many ways, a culmination of much of Daily’s work. Along with others, she has lobbied the United Nations to make it an official metric.

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CONTEXT FOR THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “The defining struggle of our time, and our future, will be the tension between Mother Nature and human nature. So, more of us need to think differently about who and what we are dealing with here,” stated Michele Norris, Washington Post columnist (July 2021)


“Earth provides nutrition and sustenance. She coddles us and protects us. And what have we done in return? We treat her the way we too often treat our mothers. We ignore her advice. We place our needs above hers. We imagine she can magically make any problem go away — perhaps because we take for granted the toil of our real mothers who dusted us off when we faltered and stretched a pound of meatloaf to feed a family of six. And now, as we can plainly see, we have underestimated her wrath,” stated Michele Norris

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