EcoServices Network (ESN) is a multi-disciplinary group of stakeholders that works collectively to build the knowledge and capacity needed to advance conservation markets, putting Alberta in the forefront of economic diversification, environmental excellence and sustainable development. A core partner of and contributor to the ESN since 2012 is Silvacom which brings over 35 years of innovation and expertise in natural resource management to the Network.
“Our unique knowledge of geospatial data and information management, combined with our experience in ecosystem service assessments, landscape planning and habitat restoration, provides key insights for supporting the development of conservation markets in Alberta,” explains Andrew Vandenbroeck, Director of Energy & Environment at Silvacom.
Through applied research, networking and knowledge sharing, Silvacom has helped move the needle on ESN efforts to build capacity in Alberta to advance conservation markets, having led several research projects that have directly contributed to advancing ESN efforts. For example, Silvacom, with Alberta Innovates, led the development of the Bio-Resource Information Management System (BRIMS). BRIMS is a world-class, publicly available web-based application that integrates data from multiple sources to map forestry, agriculture, and municipal solid waste. Through BRIMS, users are able to access information about natural resources, ecosystem services and land use.
Even with these efforts, Silvacom recognizes there are still gaps to establishing a functional conservation market and significant work must be continued to bridge these gaps.
“We still need to prove the business case for a conservation market for specific applications and build capacity for the private and public sectors to participate in such a market in areas such as administrative supporting systems and data platforms, as well as cross-sector collaboration,” adds Andrew. “Silvacom and project team members are supporting the development of this capacity for Alberta within the agricultural, forestry and energy sectors.”
While the amount of public and private investment into conservation and the natural environment has been significant in Alberta, Andrew points out the impact of these investments is dissipated by the lack of coordination and underdeveloped markets to leverage large investments. He suggests the opportunity exists to leverage a conservation market in Alberta to coordinate these investments addressing numerous competitive priorities within the agricultural, forestry and energy sectors.
Through the collective efforts of Silvacom and other partners, the ESN is making strides to establish a functional conservation market to protect our critical ecosystem services and make Alberta a leader in the field.