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TD, NCC Assign Economic Value to Ecological Services of Canada’s Forests

Image Credit: Nature Conservancy Canada

Adding to the growing body of research highlighting the value of forests for mitigating climate change, the TD Bank Group (TD) and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) have released a new report that assigns an economic value to the ecological goods and services forests provide to Canadians.

The report uses new economic tools to assign an annual dollar value, per hectare, to the natural benefits of forests. On the lands examined in each province, the minimum value of the services provided by forests averages about $26,000 per hectare, per year. More than one-third of Canada’s land base is covered with trees, representing nine percent of the world’s forests. Canada also has some of the largest areas of intact forest left on Earth. The takeaway? Removing forest land has serious repercussions for both local communities and individuals.

Findings were based on case studies of NCC conservation lands located in the eight different forest regions across Canada and include:

  • Boreal Forest Region (SK, MB, NL)
  • Coastal Forest Region (BC)
  • Carolinian Forest Region (ON)
  • Columbia Forest Region (BC)
  • Great Lakes — St. Lawrence Forest Region (MB, ON, QC, NB)
  • Acadian Forest Region (NB, NS, PEI)
  • Montane Forest Region (AB and BC)
  • Subalpine Forest Region (BC)

“We hope that this analysis sparks an important conversation, inspires both the private and public sectors to explore collaborative approaches to conservation, assesses the values of Canada’s forests from a natural capital perspective and continues to explore the myriad ways in which forests matter to all Canadians,” said Dan Kraus, Weston conservation scientist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “This is an excellent model of how we can work together to protect Canada’s most important natural spaces and create a sustainable future for our children.”

According to TD and the NCC, the research will help governments and communities make better decisions about land use, conservation, climate change and sustainable development.

Their effort puts a representative price on the natural capital of forests. The report’s figures are based on the forest’s ability to:

  • Absorb and store atmospheric carbon dioxide;
  • Clean drinking water;
  • Filter the air we breathe, and;
  • Retain water, thereby preventing floods.

Forests located in wetlands received an even higher value as they store more carbon in peat and often play a bigger role in storing and cleaning water.

In addition to ecological services, forests provide a wide range of additional benefits, such as opportunities for recreation, the conservation of biodiversity and serve as culturally important places. Assigning a dollar value to these things is difficult, the report says their importance should not be underestimated and speaks to the even greater value of Canada’s forests.

“This report on the natural capital values of forests is part of a growing body of research that shows the important values of forests to human health, municipal infrastructure and as a key strategy in climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Brian DePratto, TD Economics. “Fully accounting for the services provided by forests to Canada and Canadians will inform decision-making on both conservation and sustainable development and help ensure that the value of this natural capital Is inherited by future generations.”


Libby MacCarthy is an Editorial Assistant at Sustainable Brands, based in Maine and France. She is a former urban planner specializing in sustainable cities, and an urban farming and film photography enthusiast. She holds a BA in Environment, Society and… [Read more about Libby MacCarthy]