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The Value of Nature to Canadians Study

What is the VNCS?

VNCS is the Value of Nature to Canadians Study, one of six priority initiatives being advanced through a Federal-Provincial-Territorial partnership, as part of Canada's participation in the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. The study's purpose is to identify the social, cultural, and economic values of biodiversity and ecosystem services to Canada, in support of government policy and decision making, and public awareness initiatives. The Study considers benefits of wilderness, wildlife, rural landscapes and species and urban nature, among others.

Why is the VNCS being prepared?

Canada's Biodiversity Outcomes Framework, approved by a council of Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers in 2006, provides a vision and mission for sustaining Canada's natural assets and enriching the lives of Canadians. It identifies desired outcomes to be achieved through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, including their "benefits for people":

  • Clean air, water and soil and provision of ecological services essential for human well-being
  • Sustainable yield of food and fibre, and cultural, aesthetic, spiritual and recreational values
  • New food varieties, pharmaceuticals, bioenergy, increased production, and resistance to pests and disease
  • Healthy, prosperous communities, sustainable livelihoods, traditional lifestyles

The VNCS will support policies and decisions that can produce these benefits for people. In this regard, Canada's Biodiversity Outcomes Framework drew upon the findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), and the VNCS will draw upon both the MA and a new study of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). Prepared by natural scientists, economic and social scientists, and government policy experts around the world, these reports provide comprehensive evidence that nature is the foundation for human well-being and healthy economies.

Who is involved?

FlowersThe VNCS is being directed by a Federal-Provincial-Territorial ADM-level biodiversity steering group, in consultation with a Federal interdepartmental ADM-level biodiversity committee. A task group with representatives from each province and territory and selected federal government departments is working to identify information needs that can be addressed by the Study. Environment Canada is providing a secretariat for the VNCS.

What are the components?

The study is designed as a set of modules to be completed in phases beginning 2009. The first phase includes a literature review, gap analysis of existing government research, and cross-jurisdictional needs assessment. This phase focuses on scoping new information needs and the most efficient methods to satisfy them.

Nature is important to Canadians. Period.
Nature is important because it is part of Canadian self-identity and history.
Nature is important because it is the basis of our society's functioning, in terms of resource and energy needs but also for all of the services that natural ecosystems provide.
Nature is important because research shows a pervasive decline in regular contact and experience with nature, but understanding the importance of ecological functions requires knowledge and experience.
Nature is important because as a species, humans may have a biological need for a connection to nature that goes beyond economic or leisure needs.
Nature is important to Canadians for an amazing variety of spiritual, aesthetic, recreation, economic, artistic, business, tourism, quality of life, and other reasons.

How Canadians Value Nature: A Strategic and Conceptual Review of Literature and Research, by CSOP Research & Consulting, 2009.