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


2. Things you need to know about this release

This article looks at natural capital assets, the flows and values of services – terms that help us think logically about how to measure aspects of the natural world and their impact upon people. Natural capital assets are environmental resources that persist long-term, such as mountains, woodlands, or a fish population.

From these assets, people receive a flow of services, such as mountain hikes and fish captured for consumption. We can value the benefit to society of those services by estimating what the hikers spent to enable them to walk over the mountain or any profit from bringing the fish into the market. Applying this logic consistently across assets and services enables us to start building accounts of Scotland's nature.

Where available, estimates are presented between the period 1997 to 2018 and all monetary valuations are given in 2018 prices deflated using the HM Treasury June 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) deflators. Because of data coverage constraints, 2016 is the latest year we can estimate an overall Scottish natural capital asset value.

It is recognised that the Scottish and UK accounts remain experimental and future publications will be subject to methodological improvements. There have been significant methodological improvements from the previous Scottish natural capital accounts: 2019 so results should not be compared across accounts. Please use the data available alongside this release for time series analysis.

For context the £291 billion (2017 prices) asset value of natural capital for 2015 in the 2019 accounts is now 18% lower (£239 billion) based upon the methodological improvements in this publication. In addition to the decrease caused by the methodological improvements, there has been a further 22% drop as a result of changes to the valuation of services between 2015 and 2016.

Monetary ecosystem service valuations offer comparative analysis across services whereas physical flows provide information about the changes over time independent of price changes. The services are presented by type, which include provisioning, regulating and cultural. Types of service are defined at the beginning of each section.

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.



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