A Value on the Priceless: Ecological goods and services generated in the Seal River Watershed

This report assesses the economic value of ecosystem benefits provided by the Seal River Watershed, a large pristine region located in Northern Manitoba, Canada. The Seal River Watershed is not impacted by dams, industrial development, or forestry. It maintains clean water, is home to abundant wildlife, and supports the livelihoods and culture of Dene, Cree, and Inuit people. To stop and reverse global biodiversity loss and limit climate warming, it is critical to protect the world's last remaining intact regions like the Seal River Watershed.

By Marina Puzyreva, Geoffrey Gunn, Joey Simoes on April 18, 2022
  • The Seal River Watershed provides at minimum CAD 214 million worth of ecosystem goods and services annually.

  • The importance and value of ecosystem goods and services provided by the Seal River Watershed will increase as we are faced with the global decline of intact forest ecosystems and the global decline in biodiversity, which reinforces the need for its protection.

  • A fully functioning, ecologically intact watershed that is sustainably managed and monitored by Indigenous stewards will help contribute to our action on climate mitigation, resiliency, and biodiversity conservation.

Articulating the values of intact regions in monetary terms is one way to demonstrate how they benefit local and global communities. Economic valuations inform decision-makers and help strengthen the case for conservation. They also identify data and monitoring needs.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development partnered with the Seal River Watershed Alliance and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Manitoba Chapter in a project to assess the economic value of ecosystem benefits provided by the Seal River Watershed.

Our study found that in the Seal River Watershed:

The value of carbon stored and annual flow of EGS, CAD 2020 Seal River Watershed

This is a partial valuation based on the available data and economic valuation methods. Efforts are already underway to protect the entire watershed as an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) led by the Sayisi Dene First Nation and supported by the Cree, Dene, and Inuit neighbours. The IPA model allows local Indigenous communities to chart their own path for the stewardship of the Seal River Watershed based on local and Traditional Knowledge and sustain the watershed’s people, culture, and animals into the future. Protecting the Seal River Watershed would add 0.5% to Canada’s protected areas targets.

Report details

Climate Change Adaptation
Climate Change Mitigation
Focus area
IISD, 2022