Scotland’s natural capital worth £291 billion

An Experimental Statistics Publication for Scotland.

A comprehensive assessment has been carried out for the first time of the monetary value of Scotland’s natural capital.

The assessment has discovered that in 2015 the asset value of Scottish natural capital was an estimated £291 billion.

This figure equates to 37% of the total UK asset valuation for natural capital.

Thirty percent of the asset value was attributable to items not directly captured in gross domestic product, namely carbon sequestration, pollutant removal and recreation.

The assessment includes information on ten ecosystem services: agricultural biomass, fish capture, timber, water abstraction, mineral production, oil and gas production, renewable energy generation, carbon sequestration, air pollutant removal, and recreation.

Accounting for natural capital is important as many of the most valuable services it provides are intangible. This means that they are often not captured in conventional measures of economic activity.

Other results include:

  • ·         Fish capture in Scottish waters rose by over two-thirds between 2003 and 2016.
  • ·         Scottish timber production nearly doubled from 1997 to 2017.
  • ·         During 2017 water abstraction for public water supply in Scotland fell to its lowest level in the series history, partly due to less leakage.
  • ·         In 2017 oil and gas production in Scotland more than halved from 1998 levels.
  • ·         In 2017 five times as much energy was produced from renewable sources in Scotland than was produced in 2000.
  • ·         Between 2009 and 2017 annual outdoor recreation time spent per person was 56 hours (65%) higher in Scotland than the UK average.
  • ·       Average spend per visit on outdoor recreation in Scotland was £2.24 between 2009 and 2012, which was comparable to the UK (£2.27).


The full statistical publication and data are available at:

This publication was produced for the Scottish Government by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  The methodology used to develop these estimates remains under development; the estimates reported in this bulletin are experimental and should be interpreted in this context. Experimental Statistics are those that are in the testing phase, are not yet fully developed and have not been submitted for assessment to the UK Statistics Authority. Experimental Statistics are published to involve customers and stakeholders in their development and as a means of building in quality at an early stage. Further information on Experimental Statistics can be found on the ONS website.

These estimates are compiled in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at:


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