Water Institute Executive Director awarded SSHRC funding for “Payments for wetland ecosystem services as a nature-based solution to sustainably manage urbanized watersheds" project

Thursday, July 18, 2019

RoyRoy Brouwer, Executive Director of the Water Institute and Professor of Economics, has been awarded a new Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant. The funding was recently announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, and will support Brouwer’s project “Payments for wetland ecosystem services as a nature-based solution to sustainably manage urbanized watersheds”. The three-year project will receive $198,948, and will be carried out in collaboration with his Economics colleague Alain Nimubona and Rute Pinto from the Ecohydrology group in Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The interdisciplinary research partnership will focus on wetlands which are highly productive and valuable ecosystems under serious threat worldwide. Up to 70% of the wetlands have been lost or degraded in urbanized watersheds in Canada. Similar losses have been incurred in Europe. Wetlands are rich in biodiversity, but also provide important hydro-ecological services that support and protect human activities and properties, such as flood control, nutrient removal and groundwater recharge. These ecosystem services are increasingly of interest to policy makers because they are nature-based solutions to water management challenges that are typically provided free of charge.

The main goal of the project, which will benefit from the active engagement of six partner organizations from Canada and France, is to design and evaluate novel payment schemes for the provision of wetland ecosystem services as a cost-effective and economically efficient nature-based solution for the sustainable management of urbanized watersheds. Using the Great Lakes basin in Southern Ontario and the Bordeaux region in France as comparative case studies, the work will be structured around the following objectives:

  1. Identify the ecosystem services currently provided by the wetlands found in the watersheds of each study area.
  2. Determine the economic value of these ecosystem services.
  3. Determine the cost-effectiveness of wetlands as a nature-based solution in providing the ecosystem services.
  4. Ascertain how the protection/restoration of wetlands might be incentivized based on payments for ecosystem services.
  5. Identify the optimal cost-sharing arrangements for the conservation or restoration of wetlands.
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