About MNAI

The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) is changing the way municipalities deliver everyday services, increasing the quality and resilience of infrastructure at lower costs and reduced risk. The MNAI team provides scientific, economic and municipal expertise to support and guide local governments in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs, and in developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure.

Local governments across Canada are faced with significant asset management challenges. Many of the services they provide—including water and wastewater, waste removal, transportation, and environmental services—depend, in large part, on engineered infrastructure assets that are in need of renewal. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change are expected to put even more strain on these assets and on local government budgets.

To provide community services in a cost effective and sustainable manner now and in to the future, local governments are looking for ways to improve management of the critical assets that supply these services.

Asset management—the process of inventorying a community’s existing assets, determining the current state of those assets, and preparing and implementing a plan to maintain or replace those assets—allows municipalities to make informed decisions regarding a community’s assets and finances.

Unfortunately, local governments lack policies to measure and manage one class of assets: natural assets. Natural assets are ecosystem features that provide, or could be restored to provide, services just like the other engineered assets, but historically have not been considered on equal footing or included in asset management plans.

What is a natural asset?

The term Municipal Natural Assets refers to the stocks of natural resources or ecosystems that contribute to the provision of one or more services required for the health, well-being, and long-term sustainability of a community and its residents.

Why Manage Municipal Assets?

  • Natural assets such as aquifers, forests, streams, riparian areas and foreshores can provide municipalities with vital services equivalent to those from many engineered assets.
  • Emerging evidence shows that identifying, measuring and managing natural assets as part of an overall asset management strategy can save capital and operating costs and reduce risk.
  • Local governments are finding that natural assets are resilient and adaptable to climate change. With effective monitoring,
    maintenance and rehabilitation now, natural assets can provide service and add value for decades in ways that many engineered
    assets cannot match.
  • In some communities, development cost charges may be able to support the rehabilitation of natural assets.
  • There are external funding sources to support the maintenance/rehabilitation of municipal natural assets.
  • Some natural assets serve multiple purposes. For example, parks may reduce flooding risks as well as provide recreational benefitsand can be managed to maximize several objectives.

“Green infrastructure” is a broad category that includes natural assets and designed and engineered elements that have been created to mimic natural functions and processes in the service of human interests, as depicted in the diagram.

MNAI aims to make municipal natural asset management mainstream across Canada. Reach out to us today for more information.