Ecosystem Services and Valuation

Green infrastructure provides a wide variety of ecosystem services.

Ecosystem services can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Provisioning (e.g., food supply)
  2. Regulating (e.g., climate control)
  3. Supporting (e.g., soil formation)
  4. Cultural (e.g., recreation)
farmer displays ripening tomatillos on the vine
sunlight shines through the tree canopy in an urban forest
a middle aged couple explore a hiking trail at a TRCA conservation park

Since ecosystem services have tangible benefits for humans, some of which can be assigned a monetary value, incorporating these ecosystem services into discussions and decision-making greatly enhances the overall value of green infrastructure relative to its costs.

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is at the forefront of quantifying, valuing, and mapping the ecosystem services provided by green infrastructure.

TRCA’s Ecosystem Services Projects

Natural Asset Carbon Assessment Guide and Toolbox

Conservation Authorities and municipalities are increasingly interested in accounting for the benefits provided by green infrastructure for mitigating climate change.

Collaborating with Credit Valley Conservation and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, TRCA has developed a guide to estimate carbon sequestration and storage by various types of green infrastructure.


This includes trees and forests that sequester carbon dioxide and store carbon in the form of living biomass, soil, fallen leaves, and dead wood.

forested areas provide ecosystem services by helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change

Nature-Based Climate Solutions Siting Tool

Nature-based climate solutions (NBCS) offer ecosystem-based approaches to address societal challenges, environmental health issues, and climate change.

NBCS can include the protection or restoration of natural features and areas such as forests, wetlands, and meadows, as well as the implementation of other green infrastructure assets such as street and backyard trees, green roofs, and rain gardens.

nature based climate solutions can include the restoration of natural features such as wetlands and meadows

NBCS has received growing interest among the scientific and policy communities over the past few years.

In partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service, TRCA developed a watershed-based method and map-based screening tool for the Humber River Watershed in 2022.


This tool identifies strategic locations for nature-based projects that protect, restore, or enhance natural areas while considering multiple benefits and trade-offs.

TRCA is now scaling up this project to its entire jurisdiction with grant funding from the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund.

Municipal Green Infrastructure Quantification and Valuation

TRCA is supporting municipalities by developing reliable methods to quantify and value ecosystem services for a variety of natural assets.

We are exploring carbon storage, water runoff reduction, improved air quality, and more.

TRCA is investigating the use of various tools and methods to map co-benefits of green infrastructure such as urban forests and natural cover.

Select the thumbnail image below to view a TRCA story map comparing urban forest, natural cover, and forest cover.

a story map comparing urban forest with natural and forest cover


TRCA Watershed Planning and Ecosystem Science: