Accounting for benefits from natural capital: Applying a novel composite indicator framework to the marine environment
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Increased emphasis on the natural capital approach in the UK has led to greater demand for methods that link economic sectors with elements of natural capital, and that can provide evidence for sustainable management of the environment. However, factors describing the supply of benefits, and their links with economic sectors, are not well defined. This study develops a novel framework that investigates how the combination of different forms of capital (natural, financial, social, manufactured or human) provide a potential supply of benefits, and how changes in quality or extent of natural capital affects supply. Factors affecting the delivery of benefits are analysed, and indicators for each factor are selected. Indicators are ranked and weighted, and benefit supply is represented as a novel, composite index. The composite supply index is then linked as an input to a related economic sector. This framework is applied for the first time to four benefits from the marine environment in the UK: seafood, offshore wind energy, wildlife watching and water sports. The approach is compatible with national accounts, natural capital accounts, and established ecosystem service classifications. This study shows how linking economic sectors with benefits can provide new evidence in support of marine management.
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