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Contextual Resources

NATURAL ASSETS AS ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS AND SERVICES: “The Town of Gibsons has pioneered an approach to natural asset management which aligns with the mission of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. This synergy reinforces our respective efforts to change how local governments view and value ecological assets,” Kim Stephens told Mayor and Council when he presented the Town with a Champion Supporter award (September 2020)


“This award is really recognition of our staff, in particular our CAO, and the work that he and others have done in this very important area,” stated Mayor Bill Beamish. “The current Council was elected in 2018 and we are continually being educated in terms of natural assets and natural assets management. It is a true feather in the cap of the Town of Gibsons that we are getting recognition outside the community. At some point, I hope that (the Town’s accomplishments) will be recognized as strongly within the community. There is still work to be done in that area.”

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FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS FOR ENHANCEMENT AND RESTORATION OF THE NATURAL COMMONS IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: “The starting point for application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is recognition that local governments have existing tools in the form of policies and legislation for ‘maintenance and management’ (M&M) of ecological assets within riparian corridors,” wrote Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, in the report on the application of EAP to Shelly Creek on the east coast of Vancouver Island (February 2020)


“Until now, what local governments have lacked are a pragmatic methodology for financial valuation, and meaningful metrics that go to the heart of sustainable service delivery. EAP provides metrics that enable communities to appreciate the worth of ecological assets,” stated Tim Pringle. Six foundational and cascading concepts underpin the EAP methodology and provide a mind-map. The M&M acronym is a starting point for encouraging practitioners to think holistically about the relationship between hydrology and ecology.

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A KEY TAKEAWAY FROM APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS TO SHELLY CREEK VALUATION: “Over decades of disturbance, ‘riparian ecosystems’ have become reduced to ‘riparian zones’ as shown on the maps of today,” stated Peter Law, President of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society, in commenting on how ecological systems and services are compromised by land development


“An alternative term, riparian network, could also be used to describe a system composed of a physical stream channel and adjacent riparian (vegetated) corridor. This system provides a critical ecological function in linking terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in a watershed or creekshed. A common history of land uses on the east coast of Vancouver Island and other regions in BC has been the fragmentation of the riparian network in both rural and urbanizing landscapes. Over decades of disturbance, a landscape’s ecological links/services decline as it’s economic (land use) linkages increase,” stated Peter Law.

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A PROPERLY FUNCTIONING ‘NATURAL COMMONS’ SUPPORTS A PACKAGE OF ECOLOGICAL SERVICES: Ecological Accounting Process, EAP, is a pragmatic ‘made in British Columbia’ approach to financial valuation of the ecological services supplied by a stream


“The EAP program has three stages: Test / Refine / Mainstream. During 2017 and 2018, two Stage 1 demonstration applications tested the concept, and demonstrated EAP relevance to local government. In 2019, two Stage 2 demonstration applications resulted in working definitions and consistent application of the EAP methodology. In 2020 and 2021, six Stage 3 demonstration applications will mainstream use of EAP. The grand total of ten demonstration applications will encompass a range of land use situations in five regional districts,” stated Kim Stephens.

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NATURAL ASSETS AS ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS & SERVICES: “EAP demonstration applications have yielded three defining conclusions. These go to the heart of how practitioners look at the world around us,” says Tim Pringle, Chair, Ecological Accounting Process Initiative


EAP is the culmination of a 30-year journey by Tim Pringle. He has thought about and worked hard to develop and evolve a guiding philosophy, pragmatic strategy and meaningful metrics for valuing the services provided by nature. “Residents and property owners are familiar with constructed commons services – roads, potable water, storm sewers and many other ongoing services. They expect these services to endure. Similarly, communities expect the ecological services provided by the natural commons to be enduring,” stated Tim Pringle.

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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


“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 maintenance and management (M&M) should be planned as core municipal services,” stated Tim Pringle.

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INCORPORATING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE INTO OUR CITIES: “How can we move from viewing green infrastructure in terms of ‘nice to have’ extras, to putting green infrastructure at the center of how we value and invest in the infrastructure we need for vibrant, resilient cities?” – a question posed by Jan Cassin, Water Initiative Director, Forest Trends Foundation (July 2019)


“Green infrastructure reduces risks to gray infrastructure from hazards such as flooding and wildfire. It improves the performance and reduces the costs of operating gray water infrastructure when the two are integrated. In some cases, green infrastructure can be a more cost-effective alternative than gray. No one is currently bothering to grade our green infrastructure, yet keeping this infrastructure healthy is important to everyone in the US,” stated Jan Cassin.

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ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “One should view EAP as representing one point along a ‘green infrastructure continuum’. It is the latest evolution in an ongoing process in British Columbia that had its genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when providing historical context for green infrastructure ideas and practices


“EAP embodies what has been learned since 1998,” stated Tim Pringle. “EAP uses the word ‘accounting’ in the sense of taking stock and understanding the worth of ecological services as the community uses them. Holding up this mirror reflects opportunities taken or missed and risks avoided or incurred. It asks the question; how well are we doing? This is a social perspective on the natural commons and the constructed commons. Residents and property owners use and expect to use both of these assets to support quality of life and property enjoyment.”

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Ecological Accounting Process and Water Balance Methodology – the twin pillars of a whole-system, water balance vision for restorative land development in British Columbia, an approach branded as “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”


“Development of the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) began in 2015. The EAP vision was first unveiled in Beyond the Guidebook 2015. This was the third in a series that builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released by the provincial government in 2002,” states Kim Stephens. “Beyond the Guidebook 2015 introduced the notion of the ‘twin pillars’ – that is, EAP and the Water Balance Methodology – for asset management strategies that achieve the goal of ‘sustainable watershed systems’.”

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CREATING NEXT GENERATION INFRASTRUCTURE: “By harnessing the power of nature, infrastructure services can be provided at a lower cost while delivering greater impact,” wrote Andrew Steer in the foreword to a landmark report on integrating green and gray infrastructure (March 2019)


“Green infrastructure can be cheaper and more resilient than gray infrastructure alone—and it can produce substantial benefits beyond what the balance sheets measure,” states Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “These nature-based solutions can help us meet the infrastructure investment gap in a cost-effective manner, while lifting up local communities with benefits in their backyards. We’re at a climate inflection point, and in the midst of an infrastructure crisis. Now more than ever, the world must tap into nature’s wealth.”

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