Report presents promising agenda for greening B.C. communities | News
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'Making Policy Live' videos highlight economic and health benefits from local initiatives

Vancouver — A report and video series released today by the David Suzuki Foundation will give community leaders and newly elected B.C. politicians a new green agenda for making communities healthier and enhancing the essential services that nature provides. The report provides a comprehensive review of promising policy options and was released in conjunction with a series of short video documentaries that profile exciting examples of how communities in the Lower Mainland are already taking action.

"While our report provides a review of promising policies that municipalities can use to revitalize nature within their communities, the videos breathe life into these policies and clearly demonstrate the benefits for residents," said report author Michelle Molnar from the David Suzuki Foundation.

The report, Natural Capital Policy Review, documents that cash-strapped local governments carry much of the burden of managing their community's natural capital -fields, forests, wetlands, and parks — and provides both guidance on cost effective ways to protect natural capital and offers various case studies of where these types of policies are working. In particular, the report highlights an abundance of promising tools and approaches, such as public ownership, regulations and market-based tools.

The accompanying video documentary series, Making Policy Live, focuses on projects in the communities of Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Squamish and Vancouver. The videos reveal how locally driven initiatives are bringing new life to derelict or underutilized sites and enhancing the ability of nature to provide essential services like filtering drinking water and flood control.

"Investing in the restoration of nature in our communities can pay huge dividends for residents," said Professor Patrick Mooney, Chair of Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia. "For example, the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area in North Vancouver has been transformed from derelict industrial site into naturalized wetlands; bringing a richer level of biodiversity to the area and providing tremendous psychological and physical health benefits for residents."

The report concludes with a set of three policy recommendations, including: (1) developing natural capital indicators and targets; (2) connecting protected areas throughout the region; and (3) building ecosystem service considerations into local government decision-making.

"As we continue to grow our communities, we need to begin taking into account the true value of our natural capital assets and the benefits these ecosystems provide," said Isabel Gordon, Director of Finance at the City of North Vancouver. "This will require communities to give greater consideration to their natural capital and how to manage it, as well as recognize potential impacts to their natural capital."

The report and documentaries were completed in conjunction with the David Suzuki Foundation's Natural Capital Ambassadors program. This pilot project has brought together professionals from local government in the Lower Mainland to engage in an on-going dialogue about opportunities and challenges in consideration of natural capital and ecosystem services in municipal decision-making.

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For more information, please visit www.davidsuzuki.org or contact:

Michelle Molnar, Economist & Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation (778) 689-7435 (cell)
Jode Roberts, Communications, David Suzuki Foundation (647) 456-9752 (cell)

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Backgrounder

NATURAL CAPITAL POLICY REVIEW

  • Natural Capital Policy Review: This report is the third in a series of David Suzuki Foundation publications examining the economic value of natural capital — forests, fields, wetlands and waterways — in and around Canada's urban areas and assessing the essential benefits that these ecosystems provide.
  • The purpose of the report is to evaluate tools and policy options that B.C. local government agencies can use to protect and restore natural capital and ecosystem services. it reviews challenges and opportunities facing local governments and provides three promising policy options.
  • Ecological Services: Healthy, intact, urban ecosystems provide essential services like purifying our air, regulating micro-climate, maintaining river flows and groundwater levels, treating our waste, and mitigating natural hazards, in addition to providing cultural and recreational activities.
  • The Threat: The degradation and loss of these natural assets can have serious economic impacts, threatening health, food production, and basic needs such as clean air and water.
  • Evaluation of Policies: A three-part classification was employed to organize policy evaluations: (1) public ownership, (2) regulation, and (3) market-based instruments.
  • Recommendations: The report recommends three overarching policy options:
    • Natural Capital Accounts: Regional governments take the lead in developing natural capital indicators and targets to track the health of ecosystem services, as well as the effectiveness of related policies.
    • Regional Protected Areas Strategy: Regional and municipal governments collaborate to develop a comprehensive protected areas strategy to strengthen the Agricultural land Reserve regionally and connect it to protected areas at the municipal level.
    • Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services: Municipal governments build ecosystem service considerations into economic and development planning to minimize ecosystem degradation and manage for ecological health.

MAKING POLICY LIVE

Making Policy Live is series of six documentary videos celebrating innovative local initiatives in B.C.'s Lower Mainland that are protecting and restoring nature in their communities. The videos were released in conjunction with David Suzuki Foundation's Natural Capital Policy Review[ADD LINK], a new report that gives people tools to make communities healthier and enhance the essential services that nature provides.

VIDEO 1: Naturalized estuary defends downtown Squamish from floods [Squamish, B.C.]
Local advocates talk about how the community has come together to transform the Squamish River Estuary from a lifeless moonscape into a thriving, re-naturalized ecosystem that protects the Town of Squamish from flooding and prevents run-off pollution from entering the ocean.

VIDEO 2: Nature lifts Maplewood Flats from derelict to diverse [North Vancouver, B.C.]
Landscape architecture professor Patrick Mooney talks about the potential of turning derelict industrial sites into naturalized wetlands like Maplewood Flats Conservation Area in North Vancouver; using natural processes to bring a richer level of biodiversity and provide recreational opportunities for residents.

VIDEO 3: North Vancouver's forests benefit health and safeguard drinking water
Biologist Ken Bennett talks about the health benefits and virtually irreplaceable services that forests on the slopes of the North Shore Mountains provide; protecting the region's water supply and stabilizing slopes across a vast wilderness area.

VIDEO 4: Investing in nature in North Vancouver, one lot at a time [North Vancouver, B.C.]
North Vancouver Director of Finance Isabel Gordon talks about how the city recognized that the value of keeping several environmentally significant lots in their natural state was ultimately more important than developing them.

VIDEO 5: Connecting students with nature in Kanaka Creek [Maple Ridge, B.C.]
Metro Vancouver Regional Parks staff talk about how volunteer-led hands-on programs are connecting Maple Ridge students with Kanaka Creek's rich diversity of wildlife to help create a lasting "map of nature in their minds."

VIDEO 6: Vancouver aims to be world's greenest city [Vancouver, B.C.]
Amanda Pitre-Hayes talks about the City of Vancouver's inspiring plans to become the greenest city in the world and to connect residents with nature by ensuring that everyone in the city lives within a five-minute walk of green space.

NATURAL CAPITAL AMBASSADORS

  • The David Suzuki Foundation's Natural Capital Ambassadors program is a pilot project that began this past summer with the goal of beginning a dialogue with and learn from professionals working in municipal government who share our desire to protect and restore nature in the region
  • The volunteer Ambassadors include eleven professionals that are engaged with local government issues in BC's Lower Mainland region who have been tasked with delivering presentations and spurring discussion about the importance of protecting nature in and around our communities. They come from many backgrounds — planning, parks and recreation, finance and more.
  • If you are interested in having an Ambassador speak to your group or want more information about the program, please contact Aryne Sheppard, Manager of Community Leadership.
November 23, 2011
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2011/11/report-presents-promising-agenda-for-greening-bc-communities/