The nation's economic accounts provide objective, regular, and standardized information routinely relied on by public and private decision-makers. But they are incomplete. The United States and many other nations currently do not account for the natural capital—such as the wildlife, forests, grasslands, soils, and water bodies—on which all other economic activity rests. By creating formal natural capital accounts (NCA) and ecosystem goods and service (EGSA) accounts, governments and businesses could better understand the past, peer into the future, innovate, conserve, and plan for environmental shocks. They would standardize, regularly repeat, and aggregate diverse natural resource, environmental, and social and economic data and could thereby play a significant role in advancing the science of coupled biophysical and social systems.
Read the full article in BioScience.