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2019 posts

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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IMPROVING WHERE WE LIVE: At the Parksville 2019 Symposium, Tim Ennis elaborates on precedent-setting nature of “Kus-kus-sum Restoration on the Courtenay River – Transforming a Decommissioned Sawmill Site into a Valuable Habitat Corridor”


“The economic return to the community through this project will far outweigh the costs. For example, the restored site will have tremendous potential to absorb floodwaters and provide resiliency to buffer the effects of climate change from more frequent and severe rain storms, sea-level rise, and storm surge events. This will mitigate the flooding-related costs to Courtenay, which have been in the ballpark of $500,000 per event,” stated Tim Ennis.

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“There’s no widely accepted method to calculate the more ephemeral value that trees provide, such as joy in their beauty, as resting places for birds, or the coolness of their shade,” says Bonnie Keeler – her area of expertise at the University of Minnesota is natural capital and the value of ecosystems


Bonnie Keeler reviewed 1,200 scientific studies on increasingly popular green infrastructures such as urban forests, parks, rain gardens, and wetlands and found in a recent paper that it’s unclear how well any of them stack up against “gray” solutions like concrete storm sewers and air conditioning. “There is a huge interest in expanding funding for green infrastructures,” she said. “But we don’t have a tool to understand their value.”

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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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