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The concept of natural capital was standardized in the 90's by Robert Constanza and Herman Daly, defining that it is all the surpluses, stocks or surpluses of nature that give rise to a flow of valuable and useful goods and services that turns out to be sustainable. or, what we can also call, a long-term natural income. Over time, the definition of natural capital has undergone some modifications.
If you want to know what makes up natural capital and what is the definition that is currently collected, continue reading this interesting article by Green Ecologist in which it is explained what is natural capital and examples in detail.
What is the natural capital of a country
Natural Capital Coalition defines natural capital as "the inventory of renewable and non-renewable natural resources, which when combined, provide benefits to people. "
East natural capital not only offers some Ecosystem services that are essential for life, among which we find pollination, climate regulation, water and air filtration, food production or erosion control, among others. Besides, the exploitation of natural capital offers goods and services that make economic and social progress possible. Thus, natural capital can not only be seen from the point of ecology and the economy, but also from the social and cultural sphere.
How Natural Capital Is Classified
The different types of natural capital that exist, can be classified as renewable, non-renewable, recoverable and cultivated.
- Renewable: This type of capital refers to ecosystems and the living species that inhabit it, they are renewable since both are maintained by themselves thanks to the processes. Some of the commercial goods that this type of capital can offer are the fibers of the wood, or essential services such as the regulation of the climate. Here you can learn more about renewable resources: what they are and examples.
- Non-renewable: Regardless of the ecological time scale, those non-renewable resources are minerals or fossil fuels, the use of these means the depletion of their reserves. In this other post you can learn more about non-renewable resources: what they are and examples.
- Recoverable: within this type of capital are aquifers, fertile soils or the ozone layer.
- Cultivated: are those areas that are destined for forestry and agricultural production.
Examples of natural capital
To mention the examples of natural capital, we will divide them between goods and services:
- Goods: trees, soil, food, medicinal plants, minerals, living organisms, among others, are those resources that humans take advantage of for their own use and consumption. They are goods that are transformed and depleted.
- Services: refers to the capacity of ecosystems to generate well-being and benefits to people and communities, among them are the regulation of gases (carbon sequestration and oxygen production) or the regulation of water, among others that help improve quality of land, water and air. These services are neither transformed nor exhausted.
We recommend you read this other article about Ecosystem Services: what they are, types and examples.
How to preserve natural capital
The rate at which we use natural capital has made it finite, since many of the natural resources are being exploited at a faster rate than their regeneration. In addition, taking into account the number of inhabitants on Earth, the natural capital will decrease over the years. Capitals as important as natural capital of Mexico or the natural capital of Colombia they are being threatened and it is urgent to conserve them.
For preserve natural capital It must be taken into account, first of all, that it is a global struggle in which all of us must take part. Among the proposals that are given are:
- Protection of both natural and artificial ecosystems and thus also conserve biodiversity.
- Comprehensive water management, that is, protecting, managing and conserving all water reserves, such as aquifers or basins, thus ensuring the availability of water. In addition, management of seas, coasts and islands, managing all their biological and fishing resources.
- Implementation of government actions that empower forest communities, to promote local governance and consolidate the social fabric to advance with the sustainable management of soil and forest resources.
- Implementation of adaptation strategies to climate change with the use of sustainable infrastructures.
- Promote sustainable tourism to minimize negative impacts, and at the same time guarantee economic and social profitability.
- Improve environmental institutions, strengthen environmental laws.
- Bet on energies that come from renewable resources, such as solar or wind energy.
- Development of sustainable cities, in which the consumption and production model is respectful and sustainable with the environment.
- Create a circular economic system, in which it is committed to reuse, reduction, recycling and repair. The capitalist system, based on consumption, is incompatible with the conservation of natural capital.
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