Understanding Landscape Value


Ecosystem services - or the benefits we derive from nature - are vital to our existence as humans, and an emerging key concept in resource management and conservation. However, a critical missing piece in both the ES dialogue and implementation efforts in Alberta is a pragmatic and effective approach to assessing ecosystem services.

The Miistakis Institute has a commitment to determining ways of assessing ecosystem services that support their sustained yield, and to see those assessments used in sustainable land and resource management decisions. This led to the creation of the Understanding Landscape Value project, supported by an anonymous foundation.

A similar commitment on the part of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute led Miistakis to partner the Understanding Landscape Value project with the ABMI’s Ecosystem Services Assessment project. That project focused on the biophysical and socioeconomic information needed to map biodiversity and ecosystem services across the province, internet-based services to distribute these maps and supporting documentation, and tools that allow people to apply this new capacity to land-use and management decisions. Green Analytics and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures were also partners in the project.

As part of this integrated project, Miistakis:

  • Developed a user needs assessment to ensure ES information and tools are in fact used by decision makers;

  • Developed a score-carding approach to assess the yield of ecosystem services from a given landscape, grading that against an ecologically-based standard or norm, in support of specific resource management decision-making needs;

  • Developed a web-based portal to deliver the outputs of the Ecosystem Services Assessment project in a way that supports their use in ES-based research and resource management;

  • Supported the development of ecosystem service modeling and mapping tools, ensuring their effective integration into the web portal and score-cards, and connecting them with other ABMI / Miistakis projects;

  • Hosted an Ecosystem Services Panel at Mount Royal University looking at how the ES approach can be better used in Alberta, featuring Gillian Kerr (Government of Alberta), Mark Anielski (Anielski Wealth Management), Geneva Claessen (Deloitte), and Marian Weber (Alberta Innovates); and

  • Framed a decision-support matrix for understanding the type and scale of ecosystem service information/data needed in various conservation and resources management contexts (private land conservation, regional planning, municipal planning, parks management, etc.).

Miistakis Institute works on many different types of projects which have been organized into eight research areas. By expanding on the symbols below you may view projects in that research area, as well as one that identifies projects initiated by Miistakis.

Transportation Ecology

GIS for Conservation

Ecosystem Services

Sustainable Landscapes and Communities

Private Land Conservation

Citizen Science for Conservation

Wildlife Management

Market-Based Instruments

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