Can Markets Create Healthier Ecosystems?

Harnessing the power of markets for healthier ecosystems

Could this be an ideal time for Alberta to support trading in ecosystem services credits?

For more than a decade, the Alberta government, landowners and, producers, and other stakeholders have expressed an interest in using market-based instruments (MBIs) to protect and steward the province’s land, air, and water. MBIs are designed to align financial interests with environmental and social policy objectives.

Recent policy initiatives include a new industrial carbon pricing model to incentivize Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER). Similarly, the Alberta Wetland Policy requires that proponents of activities that would negatively alter a wetland offset the environmental harm by creating a comparable benefit, and the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) provides a legislative framework to enable conservation offsets and the trade of development credits.

Despite the clear interest in MBIs, however, they have not been used in Alberta to their full potential, in part due to relative inexperience, legal uncertainty, and lack of sustained political momentum. In particular, Alberta still lacks a working market for credits in ecosystem services, which could be used to promote healthy natural habitats, reclaim abandoned oil wells, protect our watersheds, and more.

The Alberta Land Institute is pleased to release our study, The Application of Property Rights in Ecosystem Service Markets.  

This report provides a rigorous examination of the background, the potential and the regulatory limitations to using market-based tools in Alberta. It fills important knowledge gaps and charts a positive course toward the creation of a market in ecosystem service credits. The report covers:

  1. A current assessment of ecosystem service markets and other MBIs around the world 
  2. Five characteristics of successful ecosystem service credits systems
  3. A legal and economic characterization of property rights in ecosystem service credits, including opportunities and limitations in Alberta
  4. A template of a regulatory framework to enable a working market in ecosystem service credits

Ecosystem service markets hold huge potential for addressing some of Alberta’s most pressing environmental concerns, while remaining attuned to  our economic challenges.

Click the link to download the full report, The Application of Property Rights in Ecosystem Service Markets