The State of Ecosystem Compensation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe is a new report that assesses ecosystem compensation practices and protocols. In Ontario, natural heritage systems, natural hazard lands, and natural features and systems are protected through multiple policies at the provincial and municipal levels. Despite these protections, activities occasionally still impact natural areas. When impacts occur, planning authorities may encourage or require that the natural features lost be compensated for.
This report explores the trends in ecosystem compensation, the protocols for determining compensation details, and implementation patterns. "
Ecosystem compensation aims to offset the adverse impacts of site development or other alterations on natural areas by securing or restoring natural features onsite or elsewhere. Ecosystem compensation may be a necessary tool to curb the loss of ecological functions and features that are not well protected in policy, but having clear, strong policy and protocols is critical to implementing and monitoring productive compensation projects.
To better understand the current state of ecosystem compensation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), 26 individuals working at 10 conservation authorities and 14 municipalities were surveyed. According to survey respondents, the recent increase in ecosystem compensation projects in the GGH can be seen as both a positive and negative. This report explores the trends in ecosystem compensation, the protocols for determining compensation details, and implementation patterns.
The survey concludes with four key recommendations to assist conservation authorities and municipalities as they move forward with this process:
1. Undertake a targeted assessment to understand the extent to which the mitigation hierarchy is being applied (with ecosystem compensation as a “last resort” in that hierarchy).
2. Ecosystem compensation should aim for “net gain” to the natural system, as there is evidence that “no net loss” policies are not sufficient in protecting habitat productivity.
3. All parties undertaking ecosystem compensation should develop clear protocols that provide direction on additionality, lag times, cumulative impacts, climate change and community and Indigenous Knowledge and values.
4. Responsible agencies should provide strong compliance and monitoring protocols to ensure the long-term objectives of ecosystem compensation are being met.
Read the full report: