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Moving Beyond GDP – ONS Explain Natural Capital Accounts

February 05, 2018 |

This article was originally published on Office for National Statistics (ONS)

“Natural capital is the term encompassing all of the UK’s natural assets which form the environment in which we live. It’s about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the woodland we walk our dogs in and everything in between.

Let’s pause for a second to think about the UK’s woodland. An accountant might value woodland through the value of the timber it produces. However, a climate expert might focus on a woodland’s properties in terms of carbon sequestration – the natural storage of carbon dioxide in the environment – and pollution removal. Then again, a member of the public might be more interested in the value they receive from using the woodland recreationally. The natural capital accounting approach to measuring our environment is about bringing all of these types of ecosystem services together – provisioning, regulatory, and cultural – in order to paint a fuller picture of the value to society yielding from our natural environment.

This is part of our programme to look beyond standard measures of an economy such as GDP. There is increasing recognition from both government and the private sector that GDP does not encapsulate all of the things that are important to a country and its citizens. A more complete accounting needs to include indicators of wellbeing, inequality and sustainability –this is where natural capital accounting comes to the fore…”

ONS UK Natural Capital: Ecosystem Service Accounts, 1997 to 2015 are available here.

Read on at: Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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