Canadian System of Environmental-Economic Accounts - Ecosystem Accounts

Detailed information for 2022





Record number:


Ecosystem accounts are based on the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) framework, which was adopted as an international statistical standard by the United Nations Statistical Commission in March 2021. This framework complements, and builds on, the accounting for environmental assets described in the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Central Framework (SEEA-CF), which was adopted as an international standard in 2012.

Data release - January 25, 2022 (Human Activity and the Environment 2021: Accounting for ecosystem change in Canada); June 8, 2022 (Ocean and coastal ecosystem extent 2020)


Ecosystem accounts are a structured compilation of information on ecosystem assets that include, for example, forests, agricultural areas, wetlands and other ecosystem types. These assets generate flows of ecosystem goods and services. Ecosystem accounts present information about both the extent and condition of ecosystem assets, as well as on the flows of ecosystem goods and services from which society benefits. These assets and their flows can be measured in both physical and monetary terms.

The SEEA-EA takes a spatial approach to accounting, by organizing data on the location and size of ecosystem assets, tracking changes in their condition, measuring ecosystem services and linking this information to economic and human activity.

Statistical activity

The accounting approach described in the SEEA-EA recognizes that these individual natural resource assets function in combination within a broader system.

Ecosystem accounting measures the extent and condition of ecosystem assets, as well as the supply and use of ecosystem services. There are multiple components to these accounts, including core ecosystem accounts and thematic accounts.

The core ecosystem accounts include:
1. ecosystem extent accounts that measure the area of ecosystem assets and changes over time in physical units;
2. ecosystem condition accounts that measure and compile a variety of indicators for selected characteristics of ecosystem assets in physical units;
3. ecosystem services flow accounts that record the supply and use of ecosystem services in physical and monetary units.
4. monetary ecosystem asset accounts that record information on stocks and changes of stocks of ecosystem assets in monetary units.

Monetary ecosystem accounts are described in the SEEA-EA; but are not included in the portions adopted as an international statistical standard. Monetary ecosystem asset accounts are not a focus of the work currently being undertaken at Statistics Canada.

Thematic accounts are a set of accounts on themes of specific policy relevance, for example carbon, urban areas, oceans and protected areas. Selected statistics on these themes are available.

The integration of ecosystem and economic information is intended to mainstream information on ecosystems, making it available to decision-makers and to the public.

Ecosystem accounting complements, and builds on, the accounting for natural resource assets as described in the SEEA-CF. For more information refer to Canadian System of Environmental-Economic Accounts - Natural resource asset accounts (record 5114).

The Canadian System of Environmental-Economic Accounts provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics (in physical and monetary terms) and analysis for studying the relationship between the environment and human and economic activity. It presents detailed statistics describing 1) the size of Canada's natural resource stocks and their contribution to national wealth; 2) the extraction of these same resources and their disposition among businesses, households, governments and the rest of the world; 3) the generation of various wastes (liquid, solid and gaseous) by industries, households and governments and the management of these wastes; and 4) the expenditures made by businesses, households and governments for the purposes of protecting the environment. The accounts are, to the greatest extent possible, compatible with the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA). They were developed in response to the need to better monitor the relationship between economic activity and the environment.

The CSMA provides a conceptually integrated statistical framework for studying the state and behaviour of the Canadian economy. The accounts are centered on the measurement of activities associated with the production of goods and services, the sales of goods and services in final markets, the supporting financial transactions and the resulting wealth positions.


  • Air and climate
  • Economic accounts
  • Environment
  • Environmental and resource accounts
  • Environmental quality
  • Natural resources
  • Pollution and waste

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Canada and the Canadian economy.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Data are collected from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

The accounts are largely derived from publicly available earth observation and environmental monitoring datasets.

Available information is compiled, integrated and analyzed as part of the process of producing ecosystem accounting estimates both in monetary and physical terms.

Major suppliers of data within Statistics Canada include Environment and Energy Statistics Division and Agriculture Division.

External producers of datasets used by the program may include Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Space Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Parks Canada, provincial governments, academia and non-governmental organizations.

Error detection

This methodology does not apply.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


In the process of preparing statistical estimates, data from various sources are confronted, analyzed by subject-matter experts and used to compile estimates that are consistent with other official estimates, to provide a valid and coherent statistical picture of the subject matter.


The ecosystem extent account focuses on reporting the extent, or area, of ecosystem assets and their change over time. Potential ecosystem asset types include agricultural areas, urban areas, forests, wetlands, rivers and lakes, and other natural and semi-natural ecosystems for terrestrial and freshwater areas, as well as coastal and marine ecosystems.

Each ecosystem asset will be accounted for in a manner comparable to the treatment of produced assets such as buildings and machines in the System of National Accounts. The extent and change in extent of each asset type will be recorded as a combination of (i) balance sheet entries at points in time and (ii) changes in assets such as managed or natural additions and regressions.


This account reports on the condition, or quality, of ecosystem assets and the change in condition over time. Aspects of ecosystem condition that are measured include selected abiotic, biotic and landscape and seascape-level ecosystem characteristics. Examples of indicators that may be included are tree cover, number of species, concentration of air pollutants, measurements of ocean salinity, soil organic carbon, normalized difference vegetation index, landscape fragmentation and degree of modification.


Each ecosystem asset supplies a stream of ecosystem services, which can be measured in physical and monetary units. The monetary approach, however, is not currently undertaken, though select statistics exist for some services. Ecosystem services flow accounts provide information on both the ecosystem services supplied by ecosystems and the intermediate and final uses of these services. Ecosystem services can broadly be categorized as provisioning services, regulating services and cultural services.

Like the SEEA-CF, ecosystem accounting as set out in the SEEA-EA is developed out of the international statistical standards of System of National Accounts (SNA). In order to achieve a more complete assessment of economic activity, the SEEA-EA extends some SNA measurement boundaries such that a broader set of services are recognized as contributing to human well-being. The asset boundary extends beyond those that provide input into the production of goods and services that are traditionally within scope of the SNA production boundary.

Quality evaluation

The quality of the estimates produced is ascertained using time series consistency analysis, as well as analysis of the coherence of the estimates compared to related data from other sources. Issues arising from the source data are also identified and corrected where appropriate.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Components of this program will be updated at varying intervals according to data availability.

Data accuracy

No direct measures of the margin of error in the estimates can be calculated. The quality of the estimates can be inferred from analysis of revisions and from an analytical assessment of the data sources and methodology used in the preparation of the estimates.


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