There is universal recognition of nature's benefits: trees clean our air, forests and wetlands filter our water, green urban spaces absorb carbon and cool our cities. Still, it can be hard to assign a numeric value to these benefits to describe exactly what the natural capital of a particular place is worth.
An online mapping tool, developed by the David Suzuki Foundation, in partnership with Emily Carr University of Art and Design and OCAD University, formerly the Ontario College of Art and Design, goes the extra distance of assigning dollar values to natural spaces.
Students participating in the Social Practice and Community Engagement (SPACE) minor program at Emily Carr created digital narratives to support the online tool, says professor Susan Stewart, dean of the faculty of culture and community. "With this, you could be standing somewhere in Vancouver, in Burns Bog for example, and receive information about the site, including its worth as natural capital."
With guidance from instructor Sarah Van Borek, students at Emily Carr University of Art and Design developed content that illustrates the natural capital for specific wetlands and beaches in Vancouver. SUPPLIED
Ms. Stewart explains that students developed content for a number of different ecosystems by producing videos that contain site information and interviews with experts, such as conservationists or First Nations elders.
"This has incredible cultural, social and economic worth," says Ms. Stewart, adding that the initiative is not only in line with Emily Carr University's stated interest in sustainability, it also provides a space for students' contribution to positive change.
"Students are coming into the school with great motivation. They are well aware that climate change is happening and about the many issues around sustainability. We want to help activate this motivation," she says.
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.