Progress on ecosystem accounting in Europe
Sabine Lange, Carole Sylvie Campagne, Adrien Comte, Emily Bank, Fernando Santos-Martín, Joachim Maes, Benjamin Burkhard
Research on methods and applications on the integration of ecosystem services flow accounts into economic reporting systems has increased in the last decades. Along with Natural Capital Accounting (NCA), Ecosystem Accounting (EA) has been increasingly considered and has been integrated into research, policy and decision-making. Following the System of Environmental Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) distinction of core and thematic accounts, this study presents a short overview of the EA progress in European countries. Based on the review of scientific and grey literature, the ecosystem accounting progress from 29 European countries was identified (EU27 countries, the United Kingdom and Norway). Overall, the largest share (more than 50%) of finalized accounts at a national scale were recorded for the ecosystem extent accounts. Besides, the review revealed that for monetary ecosystem service accounts, the relatively largest proportion of accounts was developed only at the local scale. Generally, the accounting progress has been found to be distributed rather heterogeneously throughout the different countries. The most intensive ecosystem accounting progresses were identified for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The most frequently developed thematic account was the carbon account. Within this study, we only considered finalized ecosystem accounts. Nevertheless, in the process of the review, we came across a vast amount of further ongoing accounting initiatives. In combination with the growing relevance and increasing awareness of ecosystem accounting in policy- and decision-making in the countries and within supranational bodies like the UN and the EU, we expect a significant increase in completed ecosystem accounts in the foreseeable future.