Valuing the natural capital of NCC's protected areas
A report by NCC and TD Bank Group
Midgeley, BC (Photo by Steve Ogle)
You're invited to join a Facebook Live session with the paper’s co-authors, Dan Kraus and Brian DePratto, on Thursday, March 23, 2017, 12 p.m. EST at facebook.com/natureconservancy.ca.
Although the importance of ecosystem goods and services has long been recognized, their valuation is a new and emerging field. The valuation of nature provides an opportunity to link conservation and economics.
The value of protected areas
A report by TD Bank Group and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) estimates the ecological goods and services provided by NCC properties in Canada's forest regions.
Most of the properties in the report were protected in part under TD Forests. The report places a value on these lands from a natural capital perspective. It focuses on a range of ecosystem services provided by protected areas, such as:
- carbon storage
- removal of air pollution
- water purification
- flood control
These are just some of the services provided by nature. Since there are many more that are yet to be measured, the values in this report can be considered to be conservative.
A brief overview of natural capital services
While the idea of natural capital has a long history in economics, it has arguably only entered the mainstream in recent years, with the rise of carbon pricing in many jurisdictions, including Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and most recently in Ontario. Natural capital comprises the natural resources and ecosystems that provide direct and/or indirect benefits to the economy, society and the world more generally.
Much as financial capital yields a series of payments, natural capital produces a continuous stream of services. For instance, a wetland may provide a breeding and nursery habitat for fish, opportunities for wildlife viewing and filters and stores the water passing through it, thereby improving water quality and reducing the risk of flooding in downstream communities.
Valuing our natural capital services
Canada’s protected areas represent a vast natural capital resource. Protected areas help ensure that these resources will continue to benefit Canadians for years to come. TD Forests has helped NCC protect lands and natural ecosystems that provide important ecosystem services for the communities around them, while at the same time conserving important habitats and wildlife.
The value of Canadian natural capital should not be underestimated. Although the report focuses on a small set of properties, scaling these results up to the national level implies an incredible amount of value accruing to Canadians year after year. By protecting these important lands, we can help ensure that these benefits coninue to be maintained for generations to come.