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Ecological Goods and Services: A Review of Best Practice in Policy and Programing

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Ecological Goods and Services: A Review of Best Practice in Policy and Programing

This research paper provides a review of programing and research in ecological goods and services (EGS) internationally and in Canada.

The review was conducted to inform and guide policy that will enable the programing and management of priority EGS in Manitoba.

EGS are the direct economic and cultural benefits provided to humans by ecosystems such as wetlands and watersheds and include water filtration, flood protection and wildlife habitat. Agriculture is an important land use in Manitoba and a key sector for the provision of EGS regionally.

An international review of EGS programs and policies for natural resources management issues revealed three main things that are very pertinent for the design and implementation of any EGS policy. Firstly, governments with the most experience in EGS programing are improving program efficiency by bundling soil conservation, water quality, flood mitigation and habitat protection into integrated approaches rather than relying on single-issue programs. Secondly, we're in an era of EGS accountability, where governments need to demonstrate to taxpayers that EGS investments are producing real environmental improvements, which is part of the reason why we are seeing more efficient, integrated programs. Thirdly, EGS programs are scaling up to help achieve regional and even continental environmental goals as we are seeing in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico-Mississippi Basin management plans as seen in our report.

This study provides timely and important regional guidance for the development of a Manitoba EGS policy that will be a big part of the comprehensive water resources plan that Manitoba needs to protect Lake Winnipeg as well as providing much needed financial incentives to private landowners that reflect the true value of the EGS that the public benefits from.

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