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Distributional issues in Natural Capital Accounting

Integrating natural capital thinking into land-based decision-making
Glensaugh research farm (© Paola Ovando, 2019)







Accounting for ecosystems is increasingly central to natural capital accounting. What is missing from this is an answer to questions about how natural capital is distributed: that is, who consumes ecosystem services and who owns the underlying assets.


We are interested in how ecosystem assets (which is a form of natural capital) are distributed – among institutional owners across space, from the perspective of two contrsting ecosystem services: carbon sequestration and air polution removal


The findings indicate the relative importance of private land in ecosystem service supply, rather than publically-held land. They also show a relative concentration of ownership for land providing comparatively high amounts of carbon sequestration, while for air pollution removal, however, the role of smaller to medium sized land holdings closer to urban settlements becomes more prominent.


These findings have implications in the debates about agricultural and environmental policies in Scotland and the UK. We argue that understanding distributional issues concerning the supply and consumption of ecosystem services may help to anticipate wealth and income distribution consequences of environmental policy.

This work is supported by the Macaulay Development Trust through a Fellowhip in Natural Capital. This fellowship aims to contribute to natural capital accounting and valuation approaches to inform land-based decision and policy making


Initial reflections on the integration of distributional aspects in Natural Capital Accounting: SEGS Blog

Working paper on: Distributional issues in natural capital accounting

Executive Summary/Poster


An audio presentation can be found here


For any inquiries, please contact Paola Ovando Pol.

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.