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Applied Research

Leveraging Natural Capital Asset Management Data for Improved Planning

Only recently have natural capital assets become part of the wider infrastructure and asset management discussion. Few municipalities have taken stock of their trees, parks, waterbodies, and wetlands as part of their asset management program. Yet they are fundamental and integral to the overall infrastructure of any given municipality: each year, these assets are part of a city’s operating budget expenditures, including planting, maintenance and removal. However, little time is allotted to their documentation and management as assets. As a result, municipalities have an incomplete overall set of information to inform future budgetary and public works agendas. For those communities who do take natural capital assets into account, most are unsure of how to best categorize, maintain, and leverage the corresponding data.

PSD aims to research the level of natural capital asset management of organizations in Canada, and how the corresponding data is used to improve infrastructure planning outcomes for trees, parks, wetlands and other green spaces. This applied research project aims to identify best practices in natural capital asset data collection, maintenance, and utilization as part of a holistic asset management program. Through innovative and standardized approaches to asset assessment, leading municipalities are able to leverage accurate data for optimal asset management decision-making. Combined with accurate operating costs, good natural capital asset data empowers municipalities to prudently reduce costs where possible and plan for future expenditures. While roads and bridges tend to have more established standards and best practices to assist with data collection and optimization, natural capital assets lack the same level of standardization in Canada when it comes to assessment and asset management practices. Therefore, this project proposes to focus on these asset categories – trees, parks, water bodies, wetlands, etc. – in particular, contributing to the advancement of natural capital asset management in Canada.

Aleks Dzintars, Research Analyst

E: adzintars [at] publicsectordigest [dot] com  T: 519.690.2565 x 2719