Ecological Health

Ecological Health and Metro Vancouver

The concept of ecological health captures the connection among healthy functioning ecosystems, the valuable services they provide, and human well-being. Maintaining and enhancing the integrity of ecosystems and other natural features is essential for ensuring that residents of the region continue to benefit from the ecosystem services that contribute to our collective well-being and prosperity.

As a public entity, Metro Vancouver has a variety of responsibilities related to the ecological health of our region, from protecting lands through its regional parks function to minimizing impacts on the environment through its utility operations.

The Ecological Health Framework encapsulates Metro Vancouver's collective efforts around ecological health and provides guiding principles, goals, and strategies to help achieve the vision of a beautiful, healthy, and resilient environment for current and future generations. Specifically, the Framework:

  • Identifies Metro Vancouver's role in protecting and enhancing ecological health as it relates to its services and functions;
  • Provides a foundation for integrating ecological health into Metro Vancouver's corporate decision making;
  • Identifies how Metro Vancouver will report on ecological health-related initiatives across the organization; and
  • Supports regional efforts to protect and enhance ecological health.

The Framework also sets the following high-level goals for ecological health to guide corporate actions:

Goal 1: Build ecological resilience and minimize impacts

Goal 2: Protect natural areas and conserve ecosystem services

Goal 3: Nurture nature within communities

Ecosystem Services

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

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems (Figure 1). 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.

Figure 1: Ecosystem services provided by healthy ecosystems

Reporting and Review

Metro Vancouver will play a variety of roles in implementing the Ecological Health Framework – from corporate leadership, to participation and collaboration, to supporting other agency initiatives.

A list of corporate projects and initiatives will be placed on a dynamic webpage annually to illustrate the steps Metro Vancouver is taking to support ecological health. This webpage will be updated when new projects arise and significant milestones have been achieved.

Metro Vancouver will compile an annual progress report summarizing how the strategies in the plan are being implemented. In keeping with the adaptive management principle and aligning with regional data collection schedules, the Metro Vancouver Board will consider whether the Ecological Health Framework should be updated or amended every six years, based on Board priorities and the best science and information available at that time.