Natural infrastructure are ecological systems or processes that provide services as an alternative (or complement) to traditional infrastructure. For example, wetlands are capable of filtering water so they can perform the same role as water treatment plans. The very same wetlands reduce runoff and store water, so they can assist in reducing floods or droughts – similar to concrete dams.
Resources for natural infrastructure include guides for identifying local ecological systems that can contribute an infrastructure outcome, strategies for integrating natural and human-made infrastructure, and information on quantifying the value of natural infrastructure.
Here are resources for natural infrastructure in Alberta.
Natural services 101
Blog post – Defining ecosystem services
Ecosystem services describes the processes or outcomes that natural infrastructure can offer. This is an introduction on ecosystem services and how municipalities can define and include natural infrastructure within their portfolio of infrastructure.
Advancing natural infrastructure in Canada
Report – Advancing natural infrastructure in Canada (International Institute for Sustainable Development)
This report from the IISD reviews how natural infrastructure can contribute to environmental and economic outcomes for municipalities in Canada. It includes recommendations to fund, evaluate and plan natural infrastructure.
The value of natural infrastructure
Webinar replay – The value of infrastructure (Prairies Regional Adaptation Collaborative)
Focusing on climate change adaptation, this webinar replay (originally aired June 2019) reviews the value of natural infrastructure for municipalities adapting to the impacts of climate change. It includes two case studies from municipalities, including the Town of Cochrane.
Tracking natural assets
Blog post – Tracking natural assets in municipalities
An overview of projects and research from the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative – an organization that assists municipalities in integrating natural assets into their infrastructure portfolio.
Benefits of adopting natural infrastructure
Report – Benefits of adopting natural infrastructure (Environment and Climate Change Canada/Horizon Advisors)
This 2019 report uses case studies from across Canada to explore the benefits and value from wetlands, coastal ecosystems and urban forests. It uses real-life examples to show how natural infrastructure can offset or complement built infrastructure.