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Contextual Resources

TREECONOMICS: “We can now calculate the exact value of a tree, from shade to beauty. Doing so could be the best way to protect them – and plan the forests of the future,” wrote Simon Usborne in the NewScientist


“Scientists have long known that trees have far more to offer us than pleasant feelings. Around the turn of the century, organisations like the World Bank and the UN Environment Programme pushed for a rigorous valuation of the merits not just of trees, but of rocks, rivers, soils and sediments too. The result was the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, which put a price on the services humans gain from nature,” wrote Simon Usborne.

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VALUATION OF NATURE’S SERVICES: “Quantifying and valuing nature are complex tasks. Undertaking them alters our conception of nature. As a result of it, nature appears more fragmented,” wrote Professor John Henneberry (University of Sheffield) in a ‘think piece’ published in The Conversation (Dec 2018)


“Over the last decade, an industry has developed that values different aspects of nature in different ways,” wrote John Henneberry. “Nature appears more fragmented because we have to slice it into categories and dice those categories into bits before we can value bits of those bits. The sum of these parts is far short of the whole and does not capture the interconnectedness and holism of nature. In addition, our view of nature is biased to those aspects of it that can be measured and particularly to those that can be valued.”

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OPINION PIECE: “Public Sector Accounting Board must seize options to begin allowing governments to consider natural assets on the balance sheet,” says Roy Brooke (Nov 2018)


“Local government efforts to account for natural assets… run afoul of Canadian public sector accounting rules, which do not allow accountants to consider natural assets to be ‘real’ assets for financial purposes,” stated Roy Brooke. “This could — and should — change, however, as the result of an ongoing consultation led by Canada’s Public Sector Accounting Board. They develop the Handbook that guides Canada’s public sector accountants, and this consultation is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make adjustments to the concepts underlying our Canadian public sector accounting standards.”

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MUNICIPAL NATURAL ASSET MANAGEMENT IN BC: “We’re aiming to translate enthusiastic interest in our home-grown approach into real-world practice in municipalities and asset management organizations around the world,” says Emanuel Machado, CAO, Town of Gibsons


“We get it. It can feel incredibly daunting to implement a significant change to your established systems – even when there’s clear evidence that change will almost certainly help improve decision-making, reduce asset funding requirements and advance your community’s resilience to climate change over the long-term,” states Emanuel Machado. “That’s why the Town of Gibsons was first inspired to create “Advancing Municipal Natural Asset Management: The Town of Gibsons’ experience in financial planning and reporting” – otherwise known as ‘Advancing MNAM’.”

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DOWNLOAD: Assessing the Worth of Ecological Services Using the Ecological Accounting Process (EAP) for Watershed Assessment (released at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium, April 2018)


“The Symposium provided a platform for a call for action because adapting to climate change requires transformation in how we value nature and service land. An informed stewardship sector can be a catalyst for action on Vancouver Island and beyond, through collaboration with local government,” stated Kim Stephens. “Tim Pringle shared demonstration application anecdotes about EAP, a whole-system view of watersheds that assesses hydrology in order to accurately describe ecological services.”

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Making Nature Count in the Town of Gibsons – celebrating and showcasing 5 years of leading by example


“Our eco-assets journey began in 2012,” stated Emanuel Machado. “The triggering event was the release of the Gibsons Aquifer Mapping Study. Shortly afterwards the Town changed the definition of infrastructure and formally acknowledged the need to understand and manage (eco)systems and not simply individual infrastructure assets. This action led directly to the Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy.”

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The latest milestones in the ‘green infrastructure’ journey focus on the services provided by nature,” stated Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“It is important to recognize that we are all on a journey, and this journey did not just start yesterday. This journey has a 20 year history,” stated Kim Stephens. “Post-2015, there are two initiatives in play. One is the Municipal Natural Asset Initiative. The other is the Ecological Accounting Protocol Initiative. They have the potential to achieve complementary outcomes. It is important to establish precedents. We learn from precedents.”

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The engineer cannot tell you what value a natural asset has, nor how important its function is, nor how to maintain that function,” stated Jim Dumont, Engineering Applications Authority, Partnership for Water Sustainability


“We have been working on an ecological accounting protocol approach that recognizes the importance of the stream in its natural state. It is not a thing that carries stormwater,” stated Jim Dumont. “We asked the question – how can we superimpose a drainage function while maintaining that natural function? This is a different way of thinking from saying that we have a drainage system in which we want to have some natural features. ”

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “The time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics,” stated Michelle Molnar, environmental economist, speaking for the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI)


“There has been a lot of work done over the last couple of decade to start to incorporate nature and nature’s services in economics. And the work that we are doing in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative is helping to move this along.,” stated Michelle Molnar. “We are working to test how nature can substitute, how it can safeguard, and how it can complement existing engineered infrastructure systems. “

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At the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “Shifting baseline syndrome, whole-system approach, and cathedral thinking – those are the three thoughts that I hope you will leave with in your head,” stated Kim Stephens in his keynote address on the role that ecosystem services can play in an infrastructure strategy


“With each new generation, your view of the world is based on the world as you see it now. Those images of ‘now’ are in your head. So, when change happens, you have no knowledge of what happened before you,” stated Kim Stephens. “Our approach in British Columbia is to say ‘hey, we can make a difference’. We have to think differently about how we develop on the land. The experience and tools that we are developing is key to reversing the trend and making things better.Communities can re-set the ecological baseline.”

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