Ecological Health

Ecological Health

Ecological Health captures the connection among healthy functioning ecosystems, the valuable services they provide (often called ecosystem services), and human health and well-being. We can ensure that the ecosystem services in this region contribute to our collective well-being by maintaining and enhancing the integrity of local ecosystems and other natural features.

Ecological Health Framework

Metro Vancouver’s Ecological Health Framework includes a vision of ‘a beautiful, healthy, and resilient environment for current and future generations’. The Framework provides guiding principles, goals, and strategies to help achieve this vision. To help guide corporate actions the Framework sets these high-level goals for ecological health:

Goal 1: Build ecological resilience and minimize impacts

Goal 2: Protect natural areas and conserve ecosystem services

Goal 3: Nurture nature within communities

Ecological Health Framework Progress Report

The 2019 progress report on the Framework describes a range of Metro Vancouver’s corporate initiatives that enhanced ecological health across this region, from protecting lands through the Regional Park system to minimizing impacts on the environment in how we operate regional utilities. Some of these initiatives are featured below. Find more details on these and others in the report above.

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems*. These services can be grouped into four main types:

  • Provisioning services include material and energy outputs from ecosystems, including food, fresh water, and raw materials used for construction and energy like wood.
  • Regulating services refer to the services provided by ecosystems in processing and assimilating pollution, stabilizing water flows and soil erosion, controlling local climates, and storing or sequestering carbon.
  • Cultural services are the non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, recreation, and aesthetic enjoyment.
  • Supporting services underpin all other ecosystem services. Ecosystems provide habitats for all plants and animals while depending on a diversity of species to maintain their own functions.

*An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and their nonliving environment interacting as a functional unit.

This diagram, titled “Ecosystem services provided by healthy ecosystems”, is a useful tool to introduce and group the ecosystem services. Click on the image to download and share it.