Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services

Natural Capital is the sum of our ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, soils, minerals, our air and our seas – our stock of nature.

These are all elements of nature that either directly or indirectly bring value to people and the country at large. They do this in many ways but chiefly by providing services to us such as providing us with food, clean air and water, wildlife, energy, wood, recreation and protection from hazards. These services are called Ecosystem Services

You can watch our animation explaining Ecosystem Services in the animation at the bottom of this page. 


Natural Capital  =  ecosystems, species, habitats, freshwater, land, soils, minerals, our air and our seas

We use the term capital in Natural Capital as a metaphor. Natural capital is not an asset like financial capital. It is instead a way of describing our relationship with nature and measuring and valuing nature’s role so that we can include it in decision-making.

It is important to have as much information as possible about our natural capital in our county for example, how many hectares of wetland or woodland, how many breeding birds such as kingfisher, what area or numbers of rare plants do we have in DLR and the flows of services (Ecosystem Services) supplied by them.  What condition are these stocks of nature in? if they are in poor condition then they cannot provide us with services. The services for example from a wetland in good condition can include services such as water filtration and cleaning, regulating water flow, providing areas for wildlife, taking up carbon (carbon sequestration), providing recreational opportunities and so on. This information then provides our decision-makers with the tools to incorporate natural capital into decision-making.

Natural Capital Accounts are a series of interconnected accounts that provide a structured set of information relating to the stocks of natural capital.  See the video below produced by the INCASE project that explains Natural Capital and Natural Capital Accounting: 


(Natural Capital Coalition 2016a

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