Photo: Natural capital meets rewilding in innovative arts partnership

Emily Carr University students designed posters to highlight our research on the economic value of nature's services.

By Theresa Beer

How do you move people to value and protect nature in an urban environment? We're finding an innovative and collaborative way through media arts public education projects. We're partnered with students from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver to create multimedia presentations based on our B.C. natural capital work. The students' work will be showcased at the Rewilding Vancouver exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver, curated by 100-Mile Diet co-author J.B. MacKinnon.

Through a unique and engaging lens, students bring to life our research on the economic value of ecosystem services. Their digital narratives will focus on urban areas that are not only home to green roofs, community gardens and engineered nature, but also to hidden creatures in their natural habitats, including herons, beavers, cormorants and moles.

The Rewilding Vancouver exhibition helps us explore Vancouver's natural history, so we can reconnect with nature as a meaningful part of our busy urban lives and remake a wilder world in our own backyards. If we didn't know, for example, that humpback whales used to be common near Vancouver, we couldn't imagine trying to bring them back to our shores. The exhibition will be the first in Canada to focus on historical ecology and its meaning for contemporary life.

Canadians are getting first-hand experience with the value of services provided by nature as they grapple with economically sound ways to prepare for more frequent and intense weather events, like the floods in Calgary and Toronto. And policy-makers are picking up the message and realizing that retaining nature might just be one of the best ways to prepare for climate change-related events we're already experiencing.