Natural Capital

“The restoration of natural capital is an activity that integrates investment in and replenishment of natural capital stocks to improve the flows of ecosystem goods and services, while enhancing all aspects of human well-being. In common with ecological restoration, natural capital restoration is intended to improve the health, integrity, and self-sustainability of ecosystems for all living things.”
Restoring Natural Capital: Science, Business, and Practice

Many of the world’s ecosystems have undergone significant degradation with negative impacts on biological diversity and peoples’ livelihoods. There is now a growing realization that we will not be able to conserve the earth’s biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone. The joint SER/IUCN publication Global Rationale for Ecological Restoration makes it clear that ecological restoration will be a key element not only of biodiversity conservation but also for sustainable development worldwide. Given that many people now depend on what have become degraded ecosystems to sustain their livelihoods, ecological restoration needs to address four elements which are critical to successful ecosystem management: biodiversity conservation, human livelihoods, local decision-making, and ecosystem productivity.

“By the year 2010, the earth could be home to 50 million environmental refugees with over half on the African continent. Given the current trends in climate change, another 200 million are at risk from disruptions in rainfall patterns and sea-level rises in the near future.”
Environmental Refugees: An Emergent Security Issue

Ecological Economics is a relatively new interdisciplinary approach to ecology and the environment that includes traditional economic cost/benefit analysis and the concept of natural capital. Until now, the inability to successfully integrate these two fields has often led to destructive behavior at both the individual and environmental level. Sustainability, economic and ecological, is a critical area of concern for those doing research in the field of ecological economics.

Continental Ranch in Pima County, Arizona

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The objective of the Continental Ranch restoration effort was to return native vegetation to each physical habitat in the wildlife observation area. The first plantings, especially the imprinting, look promising and economical. The mycorrhizal network should be developing in earnest by the time of this writing, and we are seeing the first signs of resistance to weed invasion. (Photos courtesy of Western Ecology, LLC)

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