Ecosystem services assessment is a system of metrics, information and maps of ecosystem services and biodiversity across Alberta. We used these assessments to better understand how planning and management decisions affect the landscape and increase or decrease benefits to Albertans.
What We Did
Engagement, Science & Assessment: Using the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute’s (ABMI) specialized ecological knowledge and expertise, the ESA Project enhanced and created knowledge to support the use of the assessment models, maps, and other tools in regional planning, market-based approaches, and sustainability reporting.
Ecosystems are complex, making them difficult to measure and assess. The ESA approach included clearly defining the ecosystem of interest and measuring it with consideration of how humans use or benefit from the service. The ABMI has used simulation models and maps to help understand ecosystem service (ES) supply and how ES supply might change with various land management activities. Once the supply is measured the value or benefit can be calculated. This value is determined based on the benefits humans receive.
We worked collaboratively with the Ecosystem Services & Biodiversity Network to create a community of shared understanding around ecosystem services and biodiversity. Ecosystem services and biodiversity markets are innovative tools that can be used to achieve environmental, social, and economic objectives. Assessment approaches need to be communicated in terms that are simple and intuitive. Users of the information need to clearly understand the supply and value of ecosystem services.
With our partners, we used a variety of tools and strategies to increase knowledge and change attitudes and behavior that ultimately leads to the adoption of ecosystem services and biodiversity markets.
Our project team worked with multi-disciplinary researchers and experts to enhance and create new knowledge that supports the development and use of assessment models, maps and other tools that can be used in planning, management and market based approaches.
Information is grounded in science, ensuring that our processes and systems are credible, verifiable, and transparent.
Our assessment approach included the use of simulation modeling, maps, and decision tools to help us understand the supply of ecosystem services and how ecosystem services can change with various management activities. We started with assessments at provincial and regional scales; however, some assessments can be used at much smaller scales.
We created the Ecosystem Services Inventory (not yet publicly released), which displays the supply of ecosystem services in Alberta, through the application of our assessment process.