Scottish Natural Capital Accounts: 2020

This report gives estimates of the quantity and value of services supplied by Scottish natural capital covering:

Agricultural biomass

Fish capture


Water abstraction


Fossil fuel

Renewable energy

Carbon sequestration

Air pollution removal

Noise mitigation

Urban cooling


1. Main points


  • This article looks at three different elements of natural capital – the value of the assets, the annual flow of services that these assets provides, and the value of these annual services.
  • Natural capital accounts are reported under three categories – provisioning services that create products such as food, water and minerals, regulating services such as air pollution removal and carbon sequestration, and cultural services such as recreational use of nature.
  • Estimates are experimental and remain under development. Experimental Statistics are published to involve customers and stakeholders in their development and as a means of building in quality at an early stage.
  • Several ecosystem services are not being measured in this article, such as flood mitigation and tourism, so the monetary accounts should be interpreted as a partial or minimum value of Scottish natural capital.

Asset valuation

  • In 2016, the partial asset value of Scottish Natural Capital was £196 billion, 20% of the UK asset valuation.
  • 37% of the asset value was attributable to non-material benefits not directly captured in gross domestic product.
  • Fossil fuels account for 46% of the asset value.
  • Carbon sequestration was the second largest, accounting for 21% of Scotland's natural asset value.

Annual monetary flows

  • We can value the benefit to society of the annual services that Scotland's natural capital assets provide. In 2016, the monetary value of the services provided by Scotland's natural capital was £3.86 billion.
  • Living near publicly accessible green and blue spaces added on average £2,393 to property prices in Scottish urban areas.
  • Because of the cooling effects of urban green spaces Edinburgh and Glasgow avoided £3.15 million in productivity losses during 2018.

Annual physical flows

  • Fossil fuel extraction has more than halved between 1998 and 2018.
  • In 2018, renewables made up the majority (55%) of Scottish electricity generation, up from 18% in 2008.
  • In 2016, nearly four-fifths of total UK waters fish capture was caught in Scottish waters.
  • Timber production in Scotland has doubled between 1997 and 2018.
  • Our model suggests the equivalent to 1,549 years of life were saved through Scottish vegetation removing air pollution in 2017.
  • In 2017, Scotland represented 39% of UK net carbon sequestration.
  • During 2017, over 1 billion hours were spent on visits for outdoor recreation in Scotland.



Back to top