Scientists Devise Method for Valuing Soil's Natural Capital

Friday, July 28, 2017

A framework for developing natural capital accounting for soil has been developed by a team of scientists led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

The framework, published on 27 July, should help countries establish a monitoring and assessment information system for soil that can inform economic, social and environmental policy. 

Understanding the status of soil and how it is changing in relation to climate and land use change has been a “major challenge” according to the team who said they wanted to “bridge the science-policy interface”  through their accounting system.

Dr Robinson, a soil scientist at CEH and lead author of the study, said the research highlights the need to integrate environmental data with economic measures such as national income, gross domestic product and national wealth, to ensure resource degradation is not invisible.

“From the policy perspective we need to know the state of soils and how much changes are due to degradation so we can help inform policy makers to intervene and reduce it,” he said.

Monitoring soil cycles that impact the economy, society and earth system function were central to the work. These included the carbon cycle, nutrient cycles, soil production and erosion cycle, as well as the water and energy balance.

Soil’s natural capital is one of the least developed areas of the United Nations’ System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA), according to CEH which worked alongside research organisations from Italy, Switzerland and Melbourne on the project.  

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