1. Overview

  • In brief, UK Natural Capital is comprised by all the ecosystem services which UK natural assets provide. Natural assets include soil, air, water and all living things.
  • Accounting for natural capital is important as many of the most valuable services it provides are intangible so they’re often overlooked. Therefore, prior to creating natural capital accounts decisions can frequently be made without best representing the environment.
  • We are constantly expanding and developing our work to stay on path with our 2020 Roadmap. We welcome all those with expertise in any area of future work to contact us at environment.accounts@ons.gov.uk
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2. Publications

Roadmaps:

Natural Capital monetary estimates:

Habitat accounts include:

  • Woodland (available within our most recent UK Environmental Accounts publication)
    Released: 5 July 2016
    Statistical bulletin

  • Farmland
    Released: 15 February 2016
    Statistical bulletin

  • Freshwater
    Released: 20 March 2015
    Statistical bulletin

Cross-cutting accounts include:

Scoping studies include:

Methodology reports:

Seminar notes:

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3. Why it’s important to measure natural capital

Natural assets provide a wide range of ecosystem services that make human life possible: the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials we use for fuel, building materials and medicines, to name a few. They also provide less visible services such as climate regulation, the natural flood defences provided by forests, removal of air pollutants by vegetation, and the pollination of crops by insects. Then there’s the inspiration we take from wildlife and the natural environment. Yet despite nature being priceless, it is not valueless.

We take a balanced approach to producing natural capital accounts; which entails creating stock and flow accounts of specific habitats or services. This means we are able to focus development on key accounts where the policy interest lies. All these specific accounts are then amalgamated into a national UK natural capital account which provides a “quick overview” of UK natural capital. The ultimate goal of the ONS-Defra project is to incorporate UK natural capital into the UK Environmental Accounts by 2020.

Natural Capital is predominantly hidden, partial or missing from the nation’s balance sheet. However, by providing valuations of the UK’s natural capital, decision makers can better include the environment in their plans to allocate resources to develop, and promote the growth of, the economy.

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