Natural Capital Accounts for Scotland released

22nd March 2019

river tweed angling

Today, the Scottish Government released the first set of Ecosystem Service Accounts for Scotland. These accounts, produced by the Office for National Statistics, provide the first comprehensive assessment of Scotland’s natural capital and includes information on 10 ecosystem services:

  • Agricultural biomass 
  • Fish capture
  • Timber
  • Water abstraction
  • Mineral production
  • Oil and gas production
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Air pollutant removal
  • Recreation

These accounts contain estimates of the quantity and value of services being supplied by Scottish natural capital, but do not incorporate all ecosystem services. Therefore, the monetary accounts should be interpreted as a partial or minimum value of Scottish natural capital. 

Main points

  • In 2015, Scottish natural capital was estimated to be valued at £273 billion, 34% of the UK total.
  • A quarter of the asset value was attributable to non-material benefits not directly captured in gross domestic product.
  • In 2017, oil and gas production in Scotland more than halved from 1998 levels.
  • Fish capture in Scottish waters rose by over two-thirds between 2003 and 2016.
  • Scottish timber production nearly doubled from 1997 to 2017.
  • During 2017, water abstraction for public water supply in Scotland fell to its lowest level in the series history, partly due to less leakage.
  • From 2000 to 2017, renewable energy generation quintupled.
  • In 2017, the removal of PM2.5 from the atmosphere by vegetation led to overall avoided health damage costs of £52.3 million.
  • Between 2009 and 2017, annual outdoor recreation time spent per person was 56 hours (65%) higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK.
  • Average spend per visit on outdoor recreation in Scotland was £1.14 between 2009 and 2017, which was 43% lower than the UK (£1.99).

Response

The Scottish Forum on Natural Capital welcomes the publication of these accounts as an important step forward in our understanding of the value of Scotland’s natural capital. 

These figures demonstrate many of the tangible benefits provided by the natural environment. These include helping to reduce the impact of climate change, removing harmful pollutants from the air, and providing spaces for recreation and personal enrichment. 

We hope these accounts are given as much prominence as traditional economic accounts. The information provided should be used by decision-makers in the public sector to effectively manage and invest in Scotland’s natural assets for the betterment of society, the economy and nature.

 

The full accounts can be accessed here