Our economy depends on society and nature creating the conditions for us to succeed. We take these gifts for granted and assume they will continue to be free forever. This is not the case. The current environmental crisis clearly demonstrates that Planet Earth has limits and is under severe pressure. The concept of “natural capital” provides a way to understand the value nature provides and our dependence on it. This is similar to way we understand other forms of capital – like financial.
Natural capital is defined as the stock of natural assets (air, water, land, habitats) that provide goods and services which benefit society, the economy and business. Natural capital provides goods and critical “ecosystem services” essential for a functioning economy and society. As illustrated, these include fresh water, productive land for food and fibres, fish, fuels, minerals, sequestration of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, clean air, flood defences, plants for pharmaceuticals, biodiversity and recreation.