Towards a global map of natural capital: key ecosystem assets

United Nations Environment Programme (2014)

Natural capital is fundamental to human wellbeing, underpinning the global economy. Natural capital comprises both ecosystem assets (such as fresh water) and natural resources (such as fossil fuel deposits). This report presents the first attempt to give an overview of the global distribution of ecosystem assets. Ecosystem assets have the capacity to generate a basket of ecosystem services, and this capacity can be understood as a function of the extent (quantity) and condition (quality) of the ecosystem. The report builds on a considerable body of work in the fields of natural capital accounting and the mapping of ecosystem services. In particular, it draws on the UN Statistics Division's System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and its Experimental Ecosystem Accounting approach, as well as the work by many other researchers.

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