Assessing the Ecosystem Service Benefits of Linear Restoration – Technical Report Release

The latest addition to the Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity Network (ESBN) Toolkit, the Interim Report 2 of 3: Assessing the Ecosystem Service Benefits of the COSIA LEAP Program is now available to download. Different than other reports related to the COSIA LEAP program, this report focuses on the entire Lower Athabasca watershed and what changes are likely to occur to a number of ecosystem services if large-scale linear restoration is completed in the caribou ranges within the watershed; similar to what is occurring in the Little Smoky/A La Peche caribou ranges right now.

We set out to answer four key questions:

  • What are the ecosystem service benefits of large-scale linear restoration?
  • How can ecosystem service concepts be used to prioritize areas for restoration?
  • Do different modeling platforms provide similar, repeatable results?
  • How can ecosystem services be used to assess the value of restoration in conservation offset planning?

Results of the analysis showed that large-scale linear restoration can generate ecosystem service benefits including timber supply, carbon sequestration, and caribou habitat. Other measured ecosystem services including water quality, biodiversity intactness, and moose habitat showed little to no change from large-scale restoration. As such, mapping potential benefits and costs indicators from linear restoration programs can help prioritize areas for restoration across large landscapes. This will ensure restoration efforts and investments are focused on high-value areas that are important to stakeholders in the region.

Scaling the analysis to the Lower Athabasca watershed highlighted a number of data constraints when modeling at such a large scale, including discrepancies in model results between different modeling platforms. Understanding the limitations of the modeling approach, including the model inputs, the model itself, and its outputs, when interpreting ecosystem service benefits will be essential for conservation offset planning.

Moving into late 2017, the project will shift its focus to the impending release of the Alberta Conservation Offset Framework. The lessons learned through the pilot phase of this project and the first two years of this extended deep dive into the benefits to ecosystem services of large-scale linear restoration will help increase our understanding of how ecosystem services will fit into future conservation offset policy.

If you would like more information regarding this project or how Silvacom can help answer some of your natural capital and ecosystem service needs, contact us today silvacom@silvacom.com.