Wealth Accounting, Ecological Capital and Ecosystem Services
journal contributionposted on 01.04.2013, 00:00 by Edward B. Barbier
This paper develops a methodology for including ecosystem services in a wealth accounting framework. Accounting for ecosystems and their services leads to adjusting net domestic product (NDP) for the direct benefits provided by the current stock of ecosystems but not for their indirect contributions in terms of protecting or supporting economic activity, property and human lives. When ecosystems are irreversibly converted for economic development, NDP must be further modified to reflect any capital revaluation that occurs with the current conversion of ecological capital to other land uses. The risk of collapse also requires adjustments to NDP, as any capital revaluation associated with ecosystem conversion must be adjusted for this risk, and the discounted minimum value of ecosystems associated with collapse must be subtracted from NDP. These various contributions of ecological capital to wealth accounts are illustrated with the example of mangroves in Thailand over the period 1970-2009.