"Identifying key ecosystem service providing areas to inform national-scale conservation planning"
Based on the research paper by Mitchell et al. 2020 Environmental Research Letters
People rely on nature and the ecosystems that surround them. Water supply, pollination, fresh air, extreme weather mitigation, and human mental and physical well-being are all benefits that people receive from nature, also known as ecosystem services. Our research maps out Canadian hotspots for these benefits in order to inform conservation planning in Canada, which is especially relevant as Canada has now committed to protecting 30 per cent of the country by 2030, including areas important for ecosystem services.
We mapped three key benefits that people receive from nature, incorporating both nature’s capacity to supply these benefits, as well as human access and demand for them:
- Climate regulation (i.e., carbon storage)
- Freshwater (i.e., for drinking, irrigation)
- Nature-based outdoor recreation
For each, we first assessed where nature has the capacity to supply each service. For example, where freshwater via runoff is available across Canada, or where natural features are located that previous research shows people prefer for recreation (e.g., mountains, rivers, lakes, coastlines). Next, we assessed where human demand is for these services or where people can best access them. For freshwater this meant determining where downstream communities, agriculture, dams, and industry are located. For recreation this meant assessing how accessible areas are via roads and how many people live in the area. Where capacity and demand connect, then the provision of services - the actual delivery of nature’s benefits to people - can occur. We provide maps of each of capacity and provision on this site, as well as a combined measure that simply adds together the capacity and provision values for each of the three services.(Note that for carbon storage, capacity is the same as provision because stored carbon benefits everyone around the world.)
We also evaluated where multiple benefits occur (hotspots with the top 20% of values for each service) and how much overlap there is between these hotspots and Canada’s current protected areas and natural resource extraction tenures. We found that just 0.6 per cent of Canada is a hotspot for providing all three service to people, and that one-half to two-thirds of the identified hotspots actually overlap with current or planned resource extraction activities, such as logging, mining, or oil and gas.
You can use this site to explore our data and different layers, as well as overlap with protected areas and resource tenures. Our results are best to be used at broad provincial/territorial or regional scales and not for local-scale planning due to increasing uncertainty in the data at fine spatial scales. Please note that while our original analysis is at the resolution of 250 m x 250 m, the data we are showing here is currently at 1 km x 1 km resolution due to computational constraints. If you are interested in the finer resolution dataset, please contact Dr. Matthew Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information, including data sources, ecosystem service calculations and weightings, and national-scale results and implications can be found in our paper and supplementary information found at https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abc121/meta
Data displayed below include the relative importance of areas for difference ecosystem services (carbon, freshwater, and nature-based recreation) scaled between values of 0 and 1 (i.e., between the minimum and maximum values present), as we well as locations of hotspots (top 20% of values) for ecosystem service capacity, provision, and the overlap between the two. Please see the Introduction on this site, or the associated paper at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abc121/meta.
You can download the fine scale data (250m x 250m resolution) this app is based on below.Carbon total (430 MB)
Carbon above ground (314 MB)
Carbon below ground (257 MB)
Freshwater capacity (272 MB)
Freshwater demand (71 MB)
Freshwater provision (200 MB)
Recreation capacity (234 MB)
Recreation demand (163 MB)
Recreation provision (287 MB)
Combined capacity (490 MB)
Combined provision (679 MB)
Carbon Hotspots (28 MB)
Freshwater Hotspots (12 MB)
Recreation Hotspots (22 MB)
Combined Hotspots (32 MB)
Protected areas (10 MB)
Natural resource tenures (11 MB)