Life depends on healthy, functioning ecosystems to produce goods and services that underpin our economy. This stock of ecosystem services can be thought of as ‘natural capital.’ Forward-thinking business leaders recognize that natural capital is a strategic asset that must be managed like any other critical capital asset.
Natural capital includes resources such as minerals and energy, forest timber, agricultural land, fisheries and water. It also includes ecosystem functions producing services that are often invisible such as air and water filtration, flood protection, carbon storage, crop pollination, habitat provisioning, and climate regulation.
These values are not readily captured in markets so we don’t really know how much they contribute to the economy and our livelihoods. We often take these services for granted and don’t know what it would cost if we lost them but just like economic capital, natural capital has value and natural resource depletion comes at a cost.