Natural Capital

Natural ecosystems provide human societies with a myriad of essential goods and services. Hence, that natural capital is a cornerstone for human well-being. Unfortunately, natural capital is also threatened in multiple ways, particularly by unsustainable human behavior.

Based on sound academic work, our platform embraces a mission of contributing to the safeguarding and/or restoration of natural capital, at the service of contemporary and future generations of people.     

Platform vision on science and activism - December 2023

This vision text (in Dutch) is co-created during multiple discussion sessions in 2023, with platform members, researchers of the faculty of Bioscience Engineering and invited external scientist-activists.

White paper

Our Natural Capital: research needs and priorities for the future

This white paper is the result of the scientific program of the International Francqui Chair of Prof. David Ellsworth.

White paper 2023

What we doNatural capital logo

The Natural Platform unites 20 professors and over 100 researchers to

  • Raise awareness to various stakeholders about the role and importance of natural capital
  • Perform high-quality interdisciplinary research, in close collaboration with actors in the field
  • Act as an independent think tank and communicate the messages we consider highly relevant  
  • Take up the role as facilitator for connecting and mobilizing stakeholders

 In our research on natural capital, we distinguish four major issues:

  • mapping
  • understanding
  • managing
  • valuing


Portfolio of topics

Natcap collage topics big

Most recent lighthouse projects

Nature Smart Cities

Nature Smart Cities across the 2 Seas brings together a total of 11 European Partners, who will co-create and validate a business case for green infrastructure to be deployed across urban landscapes and build climate resilience to floods, heat stress and drought. 

Nature smart cities logo

ITN Cafrinat

CAFRINAT is an international thematic network (ITN) for the African Great Lakes’ Natural Capital, founded at Ghent University. The general research, education and societal theme is sustainable management of natural capital in areas with conflict in the Great Lakes region of Africa.



A Thinkers’ Programme on ‘soils as natural capital’

The Class of Technical Sciences of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) took the initiative for a Thinkers' Programme on challenges and opportunities for preservation and strengthening of soils as natural capital in the 21st century. This programme is coordinated by a central committee consisting of Kris Verheyen (UGent), Steven Sleutel (UGent), Anne Gobin (VITO) en Erik Smolders (KU Leuven). They are supported by a Steering Committee chaired by Willy Verstraete and consisting of Academy members.

"Soils as natural capital in the 21st century: challenges and opportunities" will focus on three topics: 

a)    healthy soils for sustainable land management in the 21st century

b)    the importance of soils in a changing climate

c)    appropriation of soils as a natural capital

Ghent University has a biodiversity plan!

On Friday 13th March 2020, the Board of Directors of Ghent University approved a biodiversity plan. With this plan, the university expresses its ambition to pursue an active policy on biodiversity. The ultimate goal is to preserve and where possible enhance the greenery and biodiversity on the campuses.

Operational headlines are the appropriate design and management of green and biodiversity on the campuses, and their integration and anchorage in policy decisions on development projects. Substantive support will come from the rich in house scientific expertise.

Explicit attention is paid to encouraging communication and active commitment of students and academic and non-academic staff in actions that realize the plan. The trajectory that led to this biodiversity plan had its origin in the ‘UGent transition’ dynamic. Multiple members of the Natural Capital Platform contributed actively!

Natural Capital Outreach