Capital | Natural Capital

Natural Capital is an extension of the economic notion of capital. Natural Capital includes goods and services provided by the natural environment. A more detailed summary of this concept is at the end of this post.

The benefits of Natural Capital are found in four categories of nature systems.

Provisioning services-

Material or energy outputs found in nature. An example is fresh water in the global hydrological cycle.

Regulating services-

Systems found in nature that regulate the quality of air and soil. One of the roles played by trees is removing pollutants from the atmosphere.

Cultural services-

Nature provides sources of recreation, tourism, inspiration, and spiritual experiences.

Supporting services-

An important support nature provides is habitat for species essential for lifecycles. An example is the dependence of migratory species on different ecosystems during their movements


What is Natural Capital?

Natural capital is defined as the earth’s stock of natural assets.  Those assets are part of the world’s ecosystems, “a geographically specified system of organisms (including humans), and the environment and the processes that control its dynamics” according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.  Ecosystem services are the flow of benefits provided by these systems and generally fall into four categories:

  • Provisioning services – products obtained from ecosystems including food, water, wood and fiber air, carbon based fuels, minerals and chemicals.
  • Regulating services –benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes including climate regulation, flood regulation, water purification, disease regulation, and pollination.
  • Cultural services – non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems including recreational, aesthetic, educational, cultural heritage, and spiritual benefits.
  • Habitat and Supporting services- Habitats provide everything that an individual plant or animal needs to survive: food; water; and shelter. Each ecosystem provides different habitats that can be essential for a species’ lifecycle. Migratory species including birds, fish, mammals and insects all depend upon different ecosystems during their movements.)

https://2014-2017.commerce.gov/naturalcapital/resources.html

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