Natural Capital Accounting
About Natural Capital & Ecosystem Services
Natural capital is described in the book Natural Capitalism as a metaphor for the mineral, plant, and animal formations of the Earth’s biosphere when viewed as a means of production of oxygen, water filter, erosion preventer, or provider of other ecosystem services. The term “natural capital” is, in many ways, a branch of ecosystem services that relates specifically to business interests. Ecosystem services are the multitude of resources and processes that are provided by the natural environment around us, which we leverage for the benefit of humankind. “Natural capital” is a term coined by ecological economists to describe how these resources and processes are leveraged specifically by organisations for the provision of goods and services.
“For example, much as an investor will use financial capital to generate profits, a stock of forest will provide a future flow of timber, which if used sustainably will provide long-term benefits to people. Natural Capital is the stock of ecosystems that yields a renewable flow of goods and services” – Carbon Disclosure Project
Ecologists and economists are working together to measure the wealth of ecosystems and to express their value as currency. Some researchers have attempted to place a real-money figure on natural capital because while the loss of natural capital continues to accelerate, it goes entirely undetected by mainstream monetary analysis. This means that many organisations are destroying natural capital services by over-extracting resources, but not accounting for it. Currently, there is very little pressure or precedent for organisations to account for or disclose their natural capital usage.
However, at the 2012 Rio+ 20 sustainability conference, 39 CEOs from finance and investment companies signed up to the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative’s (UNEP FI) ‘Natural Capital Declaration’. This declaration intends to build natural capital accounting into the design and sale of financial products. Ecometrica’s David Jarrett has blogged about making the natural capital declaration accountable – you can read it here.
Natural Capital Accounting with Our Ecosystem
Our Ecosystem (OE) is a ground-breaking mapping platform that combines powerful data sharing and querying capabilities with satellite imagery and analytical tools, allowing you to easily monitor your worldwide operations, review historic land changes or impacts, and assess potential risks and opportunities to your natural capital.
Our Ecosystem also allows you to generate full reports based on your results, so you can use it to account for your impacts on ecosystem services and biodiversity, and comply with forthcoming natural capital disclosure standards.
Best of all, you don’t need geographic information systems (GIS) or remote sensing software skills to operate Our Ecosystem. Ecometrica’s team of land use specialists and developers provide a managed service that gives decision-makers everything they need in an easy to use interface.