Quantifying and qualifying ecosystem services to enhance Natural Heritage System Planning: A case study in Halton, Ontario Canada
This dissertation explores a means of enhancing current approaches to Natural Heritage System planning through the explicit recognition of the value of natural areas on the landscape. The identification of various landcover types captured within a Natural Heritage System and the ascription of cumulative ecosystem service values by landcover type is posited as a means to enhance Natural Heritage System Planning. The integration of ecosystem services into the Natural Heritage System planning process as a means of increasing social license for NHS planning is explored. Using Ontario’s Halton Region as a case study, the effectiveness of NHS planning in capturing and maintaining different landcover types is assessed. Landcover classifications are used as the basis to determine ecosystem service values. A series of surveys, interviews, and workshops are used to evaluate stakeholder perspectives on both NHS and ecosystem services, and explores the potential of integrating the two. NHS is an effective means of capturing important ecological landcover types; more than 90% of forests and wetlands areas are captured in Halton’s NHS, comprising 22,800 ha out of the total 49,990 ha designated within the system. Halton’s NHS captures an estimated $645 million per year in ecosystem value, which is 85% of the Region’s total estimated value; regulating services are declining, while cultural services are increasing. While stakeholders across the Region are aware of the need for NHS, strong negative perceptions of the process from industrial stakeholders suggest that the process has not yet achieved the threshold for social license. The study concludes that integration of ecosystem services into NHS planning could improve transparency and communication around the process, but that stakeholders would be more likely to accept this integration if the process was framed as a response to a common goal, such as managing impacts of climate change. The research suggests that quantifying ecosystem service levels rather than valorizing these services might be preferable. Updates to Ontario’s Ecological Land Classification systems might help to improve assessment of ecosystem services in the future; NHS planning should also be updated to provide a more transparent mechanism of communicating what landcover types are delineated and protected through these systems, to aid in landscape-level planning. Sharing information widely before discussing policy options is essential to increasing transparency, building community consensus, and achieving lasting social license for long-term NHS protection.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/28574
Request an alternative formatIf you require this document in an alternate, accessible format, please contact the Queen's Adaptive Technology Centre
The following license files are associated with this item: