Valuing Ecosystem Goods and Services in the Columbia River Basin

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Date created: 
ISBN: 978-1-77287-026-8
Ecosystem goods
Ecosystem services
Columbia River Basin
Columbia River Treaty

The values presented in this report apply to the Columbia River Basin (CRB) in the US as a whole. While further work will be needed to estimate the values directly associated with the Columbia River Treaty (CRT), our analysis clearly demonstrates the need for acknowledgment of non-market, ecosystembased values connected to Treaty operations as the sovereign parties consider options for renegotiation, or modification, of the CRT. We acknowledge that many cultural and spiritual ecosystem values transcend economic values. We present this work as a comment on the fact that the contribution of ecosystems is currently valued at zero in the CRT. We organize the report in three sections, each of which aligns with one of the report’s objectives:

Section 1 outlines the past, present, and future contexts of the Treaty. We also discuss the nexus of natural resources in the Basin – food, water, energy, and biodiversity – in the context of the Treaty.

In Section 2, we detail the methods we used to arrive at our estimates of the economic benefits of ecosystem goods and services (EGS) in the CRB. We introduce the concept of natural capital valuation and describe some of the techniques researchers use to assign monetary values to nature. We also use a case study of the Arrow Lake Reservoir to discuss some of the opportunity costs BC is incurring due to the coordinated management of the river under the Treaty.

In Section 3, we explore the effects that a changing climate may have on the values of EGS and the nexus in the future. We summarize projected changes in hydrology and human development in the CRB, and identify the importance of considering these changes in a renegotiated or modified Treaty.

We conclude by making the case for including the value of ecological goods and services in any discussion of an adjusted Canadian Entitlement.



A research report from ACT (Adaptation to Climate Change Team), based at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of the Environment.


Document type: 
Rights remain with the authors.
Real Estate Foundation of BC
Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions