Appendix I: Glossary, abbreviations and equivalencies


Biomass: the quantity or mass of organic material that is produced by or derived from living or recently living organisms, including products from forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

Carbon cycle: the continuous process by which carbon flows among the atmosphere, land, water and biota.

Carbon sequestration: the process of removing atmospheric CO2, through biological processes (e.g., photosynthesis), geological processes (e.g., formation of limestone) or through dissolution in oceans.

Cultural services: are generated from the physical setting and location of ecosystems and give rise to emotional, intellectual and symbolic benefits that people obtain from ecosystems through recreation, knowledge development, relaxation, and spiritual reflection.

Dependable agricultural land: agricultural land classes 1 through 3 in the Canada Land Inventory. These classes include all land areas that are not hampered by severe constraints for crop production.

Ecosystem accounts: systematic grouping of information for assessing the capacity of ecosystems to deliver services to present and future generations and to monitor and value the flows of services.

Ecosystem flows: the stream of goods and services that are received from the ecosystem stock over time.

Ecosystem functions: the services performed by ecosystems such as energy flow, nutrient cycling, filtering, sequestration and breakdown of contaminants, or regulation of populations.

Ecosystem goods and services: the tangible goods (e.g., fish, timber) and less tangible services (e.g., clean air, productive soil) that arise from ecosystem structures and functions and that provide benefits to people.

Ecosystem potential: the ecosystem’s capacity to provide a service.

Ecosystems: ecological communities of living species that interact with their environment and function as a unit. For accounting purposes, the concept is generalized, with ecosystems defined as the area where living species interact among themselves and with their environment.

Ecosystem stock: refers to the natural capital asset—the ecosystems—measured at a point in time.

Ecumene: inhabited land where people have made their permanent home, and to all work areas that are considered occupied and used for any economic purpose.

Eutrophication: the over-enrichment of an ecosystem with nutrients. In water, it results in excessive growth of aquatic plants, such as algae and the subsequent depletion of dissolved oxygen as the plants breakdown after they die. This oxygen depletion can change the composition of the aquatic community and, in extreme cases cause the death of other organisms such as fish.

Existence value: a type of non-use value obtained simply from knowing about the existence of a good or service (e.g., people may benefit from knowing about a remote park or wilderness area despite the fact they may never actually visit this area).

Final goods and services: goods and services that are available for purchase or use with no further transformations or input in the production of the good or service.

Greenbelt: area of environmentally sensitive land and farmland in southern Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe region that has been protected from urban development and sprawl by the Ontario Greenbelt Act, 2005.

Groundfish: fish that live near the ocean bottom, such as cod or halibut.

Human Landscape Modification (HLM): an assessment method used in this report to describe and indicate the degree that human activities have modified natural intact areas.

Intermediate goods and services: goods and services that are used as inputs or components in the production of final goods and services.

Land cover: description of the physical nature of the land’s surface, land cover classes are derived from satellite imagery.

Land use: dominant activity taking place on an area of land (agriculture, residences, etc.).

Natural capital asset: stocks of natural ecosystems that yield a flow of valuable ecosystem goods or services.

Natural and naturalizing land area; natural and naturalizing landscapes: land area including forests, wetlands, barrenlands, grasslands and shrublands that is classified as having predominantly natural or naturalizing characteristics. Naturalizing land areas have previously been modified from their natural state, but have been left undisturbed and are transitioning to a more natural land cover (e.g., cleared land reverting to forest area). The new natural state may or may not be similar to the original natural land cover.

Natural land parcel: natural and/or naturalizing land areas including forests, wetlands, barrenlands, grasslands and shrublands.

Provisioning services: the ‘goods’ in ecosystem goods and services (EGS)—they reflect the material and energy provided by ecosystems; for example, timber, fish, or plants that have a particular socio-economic use.

Peatlands: peatlands are organic wetlands, which contain accumulations of partially decayed plant matter. They include bogs, fens and swamps and are typically found in the north.

Pelagic fish: fish that normally live at or near the sea surface or in the water column, such as herring and tuna.

Pothole wetlands: depression wetlands on the Prairies that can occur on a continuous or sporadic and that can be connected or unconnected to streams, rivers and other surface water. These wetlands form in potholes created as glaciers retreated from the landscape.

Riparian: related to or located on the banks of a river, stream, lake or other body of water.

Regulating services: result from the capacity of ecosystems to regulate climatic, hydrological and bio-chemical cycles, as well as biological processes

Streamflow: the rate at which a volume of water passes a given point in a stream.

Sub-drainage area (SDA): represent areas in which surface water is carried downstream by a drainage system into a body of water. The SDA is a level in Statistics Canada’s Standard Drainage Area Classification, 2003 hierarchy.

Total suspended solids (TSS): the total amount of particulate matter that is suspended in the water column.

Turbidity: cloudiness of a liquid caused by suspended particles and is used as a measure of water quality.

Valuation: the process of expressing a value for a particular good or service in a certain context (e.g., of decision-making) usually in terms of something that can be counted, often money.

Value, values: expression of significance or importance; can include material or monetary worth determined by the amount, relative worth, utility, or importance of an item.

Watershed: area draining naturally to a water course or other given point.

Water yield: the quantity of freshwater produced within a given area, e.g., a watershed.

Wetlands: lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually or seasonally at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water. Includes organic and mineral wetlands and can be further subdivided into five classes: marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, and shallow open waters.

Whitebelt: zone between the settled areas of the inner ring of municipalities circling Lake Ontario and the Greenbelt, to accommodate further urban growth and expansion in the coming decades.

Abbreviations and equivalences


square kilometre
North American Industry Classification System


1 hectare =
1 km2 / 100
1 km2 =
100 hectares
1 tonne =
1,000 kilograms

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