Natural capital

Natural capital consists of goods or services that originate in ecosystems. In spite of the fact that natural capital lies at the heart of our economy and is a cornerstone for human well-being, its stocks are being depleted

To help resolving this huge global challenge, our research group develops innovative, credible, and use-driven approaches to better map, understand, manage and value the world’s natural capital in order to support stakeholders worldwide.

Inventory

We compile comprehensive facts and figures that list, describe and quantify the status of natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity at a given locality.

The inventory of natural capital aims at compiling comprehensive facts and figures that list, describe and quantify the status of natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity at a given locality.

Inventory techniques vary from ground surveys, to proximal and remote sensing of the natural environment.

When performed periodically, inventories are useful to extract trends and changes and thus may serve as screening and monitoring tools.

Insight

As scientists, we seek for a better insight into the functioning of natural and managed ecosystems.

Through analysis of data from experiments and field monitoring from all over the world, we try to understand the interactions between our biotic and abiotic environment.

New insights are translated into mathematical models used to predict the future state of ecosystems in the context of changing environmental conditions (climate change, anthropogenic disturbance).

Management

Control and organization of our natural capital's different elements.

We study how we can interactively manage soil, biodiversity and atmosphere in forests, grasslands, croplands, wetlands or other ecosystems across the globe.

The focus is sustainability, i.e., the management measures must ensure the optimal functioning of the ecosystem and the delivery of ecosystem services today and in the future.

Valuing

Worldwide there is growing agreement that nature should be considered in economic decision making.

By valuing nature’s assets, natural capital is given comparable consideration as financial, manufactured, human and social capitals what helps to ensure that, for example, the cost of environmental degradation is not ignored.

Increased public awareness of the real value of benefits provided by ecosystems is essential to develop and implement new public policies for the protection of natural environments.

In this perspective the distribution of the gains and losses, across current and future generations, needs to be recognized to adequately determine the real value of ecological services and natural capital.

Contact

Prof. Kris Verheyen