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RD 1.4.1: Natural asset inventory and accounts

Image showing a landscape

Natural Asset Register and Natural Capital Accounts research considers how we can systematically account for ecosystem services in Scotland. We are developing a publicly accessible register of Scotland’s natural assets, to improve our knowledge of how much of what is where, and which assets are at risk in particular places. The web page for the current version of this register can be viewed by clicking here. Datasets will be added to the register as they become available during the five years of the research programme. Bundled ecosystem services within specific habitats in the register can then be valued and act as a foundation for natural capital accounting. These data will be used in the rest of Work Package 1.4 looking at sustainable management of natural assets.

Research will explore how the stocks and condition of natural capital assets can be better linked to ecosystem service flows through the use of remote sensing data and the development of modelling approaches. The research will also inform the refinement of SNH’s Natural Capital Asset Index and better targeting of agri-environment measures in Scotland.

Natural capital accounting research will focus on applying accounting approaches across a range of spatial scales to meet the needs of different end users. This will rely on existing data supplemented where necessary with new valuation studies. A case study approach is used, with initial accounts developed for agriculture and forestry sectors with urban greenspace currently in development. Approaches to measuring non-monetary values are also being explored with particular reference to cultural services.

Aim of Research

The aim is to develop a spatially-referenced register of Scotland’s natural assets and contribute to a set of natural capital accounts for Scotland that can over time track the progress of Scotland's green growth aspirations.


Further Information:

General information on the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) and the Scottish Government funded Strategic Research Portfolio can be found on the SEFARI website.
Within this, there are webpages providing summary overview information for each of the Research Deliverables (RDs) within the Strategic Programme. The page for RD 1.4.1 Natural asset inventory and natural capital accounts is available here and includes annual progress and highlights summaries, key outputs and links to case studies and key research staff.
To complement this, additional more detailed information is provided below on contacts for specific projects as well as a more extensive list of outputs.


  • To learn more about the Natural Asset Register, please contact David Donnelly
  • To learn more about the Natural Capital Accounting work, please contact Alistair McVittie

There is a suite of underpinning scientific projects assessing ecosystem service delivery and interactions to fill gaps in the register and improve our accounting:

  • Remote sensing data collation to improve the resolution of ecosystem service mapping – contact Alessandro Gimona
  • Understanding Ecosystem Service Flows from an inventory of Assets – contact Alessandro Gimona
  • Extending and improving the Natural Capital Asset Index – contact Rob Brooker
  • Linking peatland restoration project data to a model of peat depth and condition – contact Matt Aitkenhead
  • Improving the targeting for SRDP Agri-environment climate scheme Payments – contact Robin Pakeman
  • Extending and improving Cultural Ecosystem Services indicators and mapping – contact Kate Irvine

These projects are being delivered by multi-disciplinary teams from James Hutton Institute, Scottish Rural College and Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh.


Outputs from the Research to date:

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project
SEFARI – Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research InstitutesSEFARI is the collective of six Scottish world-leading Research Institutes working across the spectrum of environment, land, food, agriculture and communities – all topics which affect how we live our lives, in Scotland and beyond.


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.