Under the Ecosystem Services (ES) Assessment Project, ABMI and our partners are using simulation modeling to help us understand ecosystem services supply and how ES can change with various land management activities. These models allow users to look at changes in ecosystem services as they are affected by different land uses. Users can create and test land use scenarios and learn about the augmentation of ES. The following protocols and processes are consistently applied when assessing ES.
All assessments are completed on provincial and regional scales and use data available that is also available at these scales. . The maps make the most sense when using at a local or regional scale, however some assessments can be completed at a much smaller scale. Currently, we have assessed the following ecosystem services:
Natural systems like wetlands and vegetation slow the flow of water and filter pollutants and nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and eroded sediment. Clean water is valuable in many ways, from drinking water to recreational opportunities like fishing and swimming.
Wild pollinators like bumblebees that nest in uncultivated areas can increase the yield of nearby crops like canola and forage, increasing revenue to food producers.
Harvesting timber is a well-established industry in Alberta with a well-understood value that takes advantage of an ecosystem service provided by forests, such as fibre and wood.
Alberta’s grasslands produce forage grazed by cattle, representing a large nutritional component that is essential to the beef industry sector.
Biodiversity is foundational and required in varying degrees for the delivery of many ecosystem services. Biodiversity can be treated as an ecosystem services because of its’ cultural and other intrinsic values.
The ES mapping tool allows users to investigate the provision or supply of ecosystem services from a user-selected area of Alberta, and refined by a set of user-directed parameters, including the ecosystem service(s) to be explored. This ES mapping tool allows for comparisons between ecosystem services, different regions or given various scenarios.
The ESA project team is currently developing other tools and applications.