Category Archives: Data > Value Transfer Research & Analysis

Combatting Canada’s Rising Flood Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option

This report demonstrates how to quantify the benefits and costs of natural infrastructure as a strong complement or a viable alternative to grey infrastructure option for flood mitigation.

Natural infrastructure can be a cost-effective way to mitigate material financial losses that would otherwise result from flooding Moreover, natural infrastructure can offer other valuable environmental and social benefits that are often not attainable through the implementation of traditional, grey-engineered solutions.

A thorough cost-benefit analysis should measure all infrastructure options through a common cost-benefit lens. For example, although naturally occurring ponds provide stormwater storage capacity, which helps attenuate flooding, they also create habitat for aquatic species, improve biodiversity and provide aesthetic benefits to the community. These additional benefits are not available through a grey infrastructure solution, such as a stormwater storage tank, and this needs to be reflected in a cost-benefit analysis.

A comprehensive assessment of the financial, environmental and social costs and benefits (i.e., a total economic value [TEV] assessment) is required to illuminate these otherwise uncaptured benefits. Canada will continue to experience loss and degradation of its natural infrastructure assets if it does not start to apply a robust TEV assessment for natural versus grey infrastructure solutions.

To assist governments, practitioners and investors with land-use planning and infrastructure investment decisions, this report includes a framework for natural infrastructure project implementation

Recognition Prohibitions and Urban Forests

Sections PS 1000, PS 1201: Recognition Prohibitions and Urban Forests

A summary of a discussion by the Public Sector Accounting Group (of the Public Sector Accounting Board – PSB) on the barriers and opportunities of treating urban trees and forests as municipal assets. (starts on page 15)

Ecosystem Services Provided by Forests in Canada: Case Studies on Natural Capital and Conservation

This report calculates the natural capital value of forests that are located on properties that are conserved by Nature Conservancy of Canada through the TD Forests program. The report includes two main parts:

1. The first part provides general background on Canada’s forests and approaches to natural capital valuation.

2. The second part presents case studies for each of Canada’s eight forest regions. Each study provides an introduction to the forest region and explores the natural capital value of at least one conserved forest property.

This assessment uses a “defensive expenditures” approach. Monetary valuation of the benefits used the value of the Social Cost of Carbon that is used by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Comprehensive wealth in Canada: Measuring what matters in the long run

This study reviewed Canada’s comprehensive wealth performance over the 33-year period from 1980 to 2013. This timeframe extends well beyond business and political cycles, ensuring that the results reveal trends free from the ebb and flow of markets and policies.

Comprehensive wealth focuses on the role of people, the environment and the economy in creating and sustaining well-being. Complementing indicators like gross domestic product (GDP) and addressing issues the can’t capture on their own, comprehensive wealth measures are key to successfully guiding Canada through the 21st century and beyond.

Comprehensive wealth measures human capital, natural capital, produced capital, and social capital.

The report’s focus on natural capital is on natural capital stocks, which supply ecosystem goods, and not also natural capital funds, which supply ecosystem services. The report draws attention to the drawdown of natural capital (stocks) which usually implies a drawdown in natural capital (funds).

The report says: “Due to a combination of physical depletion and changing market conditions, the value of Canada’s minerals, fossil fuels, timber and agricultural land per person declined by a startling 25 per cent between 1980 and 2013. More recent data signal an even greater decline due to the steep drop in global oil prices. A series of climate and ecosystem indicators compiled for the study point to declines in other forms of natural capital.”

Assessment of Potential Biodiversity Market Partnerships in Ontario

Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) is a non-profit organization based in Ontario that manages the rehabilitation of ecological services in communities across Canada and participates in the Canadian voluntary compensation market. Due to the challenges of adopting Payments for Ecological Service, AMOVEO, a student organization at the University of Waterloo, partnered with ALUS in 2012 to examine the industries that could be potential target markets for ALUS’ ecological services program. Recommendations were also made to assist in developing ALUS’ operations and to provide assistance when targeting potential investors.

Analysis for Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative: Lake Erie Cost of Algae Scoping Report

In Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the federal government will invest $16 million in the Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative for a four-year period to address the recurrent toxic and algae issues in Ontario’s Great Lakes. For the Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative, Environment Canada retained Midsummer Analytics to provide insight on the factors and methodologies for evaluating the impacts of algal blooms in the Lake Erie Basin and to study the impacts on the ecosystem goods and services delivered by Lake Erie.

Urban forests: the value of trees in the City of Toronto

This report by TD economics appraises the value of some of the ecosystem services provided by Toronto’s urban forest. Values are capitalized for the entire urban forest, and per-tree, and also reported as an annual flow for the entire urban forest and per tree and per household. The report concludes that “Urban forests do more than beautify the scenery. They represent an important investment in environmental condition, human health and the overall quality of life.” It compares the value of its services to the value of its management, to yield a conclusion that “every dollar spent on maintenance returns $1.35-$3.20 worth of benefits to residents of the City of Toronto.” (Available in English and in French)

The economic value of natural capital assets associated with ecosystem protection (in Aurora)

The purpose of this report is to conduct an initial baseline estimate of the benefits provided to residents of Aurora from the existing stock of natural capital in the Town. From this baseline analysis, economic costs associated with changes to the features related to natural capital can be factored into future land use decisions and other Town initiatives.

Measuring ecosystem goods and services in Canada

Measuring ecosystem goods and services in Canada presents information on the quantity, quality and value of Canada’s ecosystems and ecosystem goods and services (EGS). The report presents preliminary results achieved through a two-year interdepartmental project to develop experimental ecosystem accounts and the required statistical infrastructure. It provides an overview of ecosystem accounting and valuation, several measures of the quantity and quality of ecosystems and their goods and services, a case study for valuing EGS, and a research agenda for future work in this area.