Tides Canada Initiatives Society

The source of the Skeena River is located in BC's Sacred Headwaters region. (Photo: "Skeena River1" by Sam Beebe - Skeena River. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

To support Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition's research to assess the value of ecosystem services and amenities in the Skeena, Nass and Stikine watersheds.

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Sacred Headwaters Ecosystem Valuation Pilot Project

This project was the initial phase of a program to assess the value of ecosystem services in the Skeena, Nass and Stikine watersheds: the Sacred Headwaters region, which is the proposed site for several industrial projects.

Ecosystem services are the benefits people receive from natural ecological systems – providing, regulating and supporting essential "products" such as oxygen, clean water and healthy soils.  

Conducted by Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition with project support from Tides Canada Initiatives Society, the overall aim was to:

  • Improve the accounting of environmental values and the impacts of industrial projects;
  • Develop methods of monitoring these values and impacts; and
  • Use the results to guide conservation strategies, economic opportunities and land use decisions in the region.

The project focused on establishing the scope, methods, time frame and budget for an ecosystem services valuation program, including consultation and engagement with diverse stakeholders in the region. It involved:

  • Bringing together a team of regional experts in the fields of social services, economics, resource management, conservation and ecology;
  • Analyzing similar projects from elsewhere, and compiling and weighing options in the local context (scope, methods, approach);
  • Developing a project plan to guide program implementation;
  • Running trials of community mapping of ecosystem services values;
  • Producing a comprehensive project plan that lays out a two-year ecosystem services valuation research program for the region.

Ecosystem services valuation is a field of growing interest, but to date, applied use in the field has been quite specialized. Our grant allowed the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and Tides Canada to explore and test their methodology, and helped to lay the groundwork for ongoing efforts.