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Report shows high return on investment in natural infrastructure

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 6/5/2020 10:37:00 AM

The Greenbelt Foundation is making the case that investing in green infrastructure can save municipal dollars, help the economy to recover from COVID-19, and mitigate the effects of some of the effects of climate change.

The foundation, which works to preserve Ontario’s Greenbelt region, worked on a report, “Investing in the Future: The Economic Case for Natural Infrastructure in Ontario”, with conservation authorities to determine the return-on-investment of three planned ecological restoration efforts: the Brock Lands, the Saltfleet Conservation Area, and Lake Scugog.

The report found that restoration efforts in the Brock Lands would create $35 million worth of green space and another $56 million in infrastructure benefits, such as restored ground water catchments. Work in the Saltfleet Conservation Area would provide up to $44 million of flood attenuation and other ecosystem services for the Hamilton area. In both these cases, the benefits of the investments far surpassed their costs.

Research into the Lake Scugog Enhancement Project could not make a similar business case, mainly because of a lack of key baseline data. However, the lake and its watershed are very valuable tourism and recreation resources, and are under stress from human activity. Natural infrastructure investments would boost local tourism and recreation, which are relied upon heavily by surrounding communities.

Though the report makes the case for investment in three specific areas, the Greenbelt Foundation says the report can be used by other municipalities and conservation authorities as a guide to information gathering as they build their own economic case for natural infrastructure projects. 

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