Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Beyond Market-Based Land Values – Using a Long-term, Cumulative Effects Modelling Exercise to Measure Ecological Values of Sustainable Ranching
“Buy land, they’re not making it any more.” ~ Mark Twain Mr. Twain’s sparse words, as usual, speak volumes, and bring immediately to mind what we value about land – our finite vistas, natural habitats, and open spaces; however, this finite resource also provides other essential values that are only more recently drawing our attention: the complex suite of ecosystem services that sustain life. Certainly in Alberta’s predominantly agricultural prairie region, land values are beginning to reflect these services (e.g., environmentally well-managed ranches are often more highly assessed); but, in order to more accurately and inclusively reflect the full suite of land values we need to a.) Measure these values (and thus, bring greater clarity to defining “well managed”), and b.) Use these measures to guide future management. Through a broad-scale cumulative effects modelling exercise in a largely rural agricultural (ranch/farm) area of southern Alberta, we will provide first steps to finding answers to these questions and the solutions to moving forward – the value of our land leaves us no choice.