Winter 2022

Newsletter Archive


Natural Infrastructure

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More than ever, municipalities are recognizing the role that natural infrastructure (NI) can play as a climate adaptation strategy, specifically addressing the risks of flood and drought. NI activates natural ecosystem processes such as accessing and enhancing the absorption capacity of floodplains, modifying stormwater conveyance, increasing water storage capacity and reducing runoff.

However, in order to effectively manage, conserve, and restore NI municipalities need to know where it is, how much of it they have, what condition it is in and which ecosystem services are provided by each NI type.

Over the past few years Miistakis has supported municipalities in identifying, categorizing, mapping and assessing NI. Our most recent work, supported by the Alberta Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program, includes two related pieces of work:

  1. Municipal Natural Infrastructure Asset Inventory
  2. Contribution of Natural Infrastructure to Flood Mitigation in the Elbow River Watershed - Feasibility Study

The Municipal Natural Infrastructure Asset Inventory

Creation of a comprehensive inventory of municipal natural infrastructure assets is one of the first steps in management and valuation of these assets and the services they provide us. The idea behind the Municipal Natural Infrastructure Asset Inventory is to help municipalities create a spatial resource and database using best available data, and then allow municipal users to self-identify the ecosystem services in which they are most interested and the natural infrastructure assets that support them. The ecosystem services focused on are those related to flood and drought mitigation, to increase municipal resiliency to a changing climate. This guidebook is freely available online, and generic so that each municipality can tailor it to create their own municipal natural infrastructure asset inventory.

The Contribution of Natural Infrastructure to Flood Mitigation in the Elbow River Watershed - Feasibility Study - in partnership with Fiera Biological Consulting.

Advancing the discussion about how NI can be utilized and integrated into ecosystem-based flood mitigation planning in Alberta requires collaboration and transdisciplinary thinking, such that the relevant ecological, hydrological, social, and economic variables are identified and considered. As such, the objective of this report is to frame the critical parameters, assess what relevant and supporting information exists, identify policy and management levers, and develop a draft methodology for assessing the contribution on NI to flood mitigation. While this report focuses specifically on assessing NI in the Elbow River watershed, the general approach outlined herein could be applied in other watersheds in Alberta and elsewhere.