The natural Wealth of the Mackenzie Region is close to $500 billion, according to a report released today by the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI).
The report, The Real Wealth of the Mackenzie Region, authored by two ecological economists Sara Wilson and Mark Anielski, estimates the ecological goods and services provided by nature in the Mackenzie watershed region to be 10 times the total economic value generated by natural capital extraction industries and other activities within the watershed.
“With this new study we have a stronger basis for demonstrating the value of Boreal conservation in efforts to combat climate change”, said Larry Innes, acting Director of the Canadian Boreal Initiative. “Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Maintaining natural cycles and enhancing this huge carbon ‘bank account’ in the Boreal region should be seen as a part of the solution. The value of the Boreal forest as a sustainable storehouse of carbon shows that Boreal conservation is critical to the fight against global warming.”
The study considered 17 ecosystem services, including the value of carbon uptake and storage. The Mackenzie region is part of the Boreal Forest, the world’s largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon, making it one of the world’s best defenses against global climate change.
“This report is the first watershed-based natural capital review in Canada, if not the world”, said Mark Anielski. “Canadians want sustainable development, but we also value clean air, clean water, and the countless other services that nature provides. Our country has been richly endowed, but these ecological services do not count towards our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the traditional measure of economic progress. We need to start counting the value of our natural capital so we can make informed stewardship decisions that balance broader ecosystem and cultural values with sustainable economic growth.”
The values of the Mackenzie watershed for the Boreal forest and other land covers are preliminarily estimated at $448 billion per annum if they were in pristine condition, that is, undamaged by industrial and human disturbance. The estimated GDP of the Mackenzie driven mostly by the extraction of mining, oil, gas, forestry and agricultural sectors watershed was estimated at $41 billion in 2005.
Based in Ottawa, CBI brings together diverse partners to create new solutions for Boreal conservation and acts as a catalyst by supporting a variety of on-the-ground efforts across the Boreal by governments, industry, First Nations, conservation groups, major retailers, financial institutions and others.
The executive summary and full report are available on the CBI website.