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Natural capital accounting can have a profound impact on decision-making. Information about the extent, condition, services and benefits of an ecosystem allows decision-makers to proceed in a well-informed manner. This is vital when it comes to the development and execution of environmental policy.

The journal Environmental Science and Policy recently published the article โ€˜Using the system of environmental-economic accounting ecosystem accounting for policy: A case study on forest ecosystems.โ€™ Based on an in-depth knowledge of the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), the authors argue that the compilation of SEEA accounts should be a demand-driven exercise in response to policy evidence needs.

The article uses two key case studies:

  • The EU Green Deal, looking at policy gaps concerning old growth forest extent, carbon storage, biodiversity, water regulation and erosion control ecosystem services.
  • The use of the SEEA in Liberia, highlighting the core policy needs on the extent of natural forests and their fundamental contribution towards biodiversity conservation and the supply of ecosystem services including timber provisioning, global climate regulation and non-wood forest products.

Our Director, Carl Obst, was a co-author of the study, bringing his expertise in the SEEA and recent work in Liberia to the fore.

Carl summarises the advice the article offers to policy makers as: “Well-designed forest policy, and policy generally, requires a robust and accepted baseline of information that encompasses the wide range of market and non-market benefits we obtain from forests. The SEEA provides the framework for the organization of this evidence base. At the same time, implementation of accounting for natural capital requires policy makers to engage with accountants to ensure the accounts target the priority issues. Working collectively is the only way to find the best solutions for ourselves and our planet.โ€

You can read the Environmental Science and Policy article here.