Natural capital

Saving our precious resources

The Scottish Wildlife Trust believes there is an urgent need for society to gain a better understanding of our impact on the world’s rapidly diminishing natural resources and that Scotland has as an opportunity to lead by example.

Why now?

By 2030, if we continue along our current path, we will demand twice as many resources as the planet is able to provide.

A rapidly growing number of business and political leaders are recognising that we rely on our natural capital – the world’s natural resources such as water, forests and fish stocks – to provide goods and services vital to economic activity and human well-being (including food, carbon storage and natural flood defences). However, we are depleting this natural capital at an unprecedented rate and action is urgently needed.

Click here to read our briefing on Natural Capital, or find the answers to some frequently asked questions by downloading our FAQs document.

The Trust’s role

The Trust has been active in promoting an understanding of the economics of ecosystem goods and services for a number of years and published its policy on the subject in 2010. We also have 50 years’ experience of bringing people together to protect our natural environment through our five core values: we pioneer; we lead by example; we inspire; we are inclusive and we collaborate.

The Trust is working on natural capital both as organisers of the World Forum on Natural Capital and as founding partners of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital. More information can be found below.


World Forum on Natural Capital 2015

After a successful inaugural event the World Forum on Natural Capital returned to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on the 23-24 November 2015. The event brought together 600 business leaders, government representatives and environmental experts from 45 countries.

Over two days, delegates had a unique opportunity to engage in high-level discussions and examine how natural capital relates to their own organisations long-term strategy. 

Connecting with other leaders, learning from real-life case studies and helping to shape the emerging dialogue, delegates were able to immerse themselves in a collective effort to manage risks, maximise opportunities and help to protect and enhance our natural capital.

The World Forum on Natural Capital was once again  organised by the Scottish Wildlife Trust in association with the United Nations Environment Programme; International Union for Conservation of Nature; World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Natural Capital Coalition. The event was supported by the UK-wide Wildlife Trusts movement.

World Forum on Natural Capital 2013

The inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital, held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 21 and 22 November 2013, saw 500 delegates from 35 countries - business leaders, environmental experts, NGOs, academics and government representatives - come together to help turn the debate on how we value our natural capital into action.

The inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital was the world’s first major global conference devoted to natural capital and brought together business and sustainability leaders from around the world to help identify clear courses of action to address opportunities and risks.
The World Forum is the Trust’s contribution to a growing debate, and one which we believe we can influence in a positive way.

The key aims for the first event were:

  • To highlight opportunities for businesses to make a ‘net positive’ contribution to our natural environment, for the benefit of biodiversity, the economy and society.
  • To work with businesses and governments to help develop and implement robust methodologies for accounting for natural capital.
  • To ensure that the highest possible standards are applied to new systems of natural capital valuation.

Find out more

To find out more about the World Forum on Natural Capital, please visit the World Forum on Natural Capital website and follow the World Forum on Twitter.

Click here to register for updates

Scottish Forum on Natural Capital

The Scottish Forum on Natural Capital was launched in 2013, with the support of the First Minister, at the inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital. The Scottish Forum is a membership based initiative bringing together over 60 public, private and voluntary sector organisations to protect and rebuild Scotland’s natural capital.

The Trust is a founding partner of the Scottish Forum alongside Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, ICAS, the University of Edinburgh and the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland.

Natural Capital in Scotland

From tourism to the whisky industry, across all sectors of the economy and society, Scotland relies on its natural capital – the natural resources such as water, forests and biodiversity which provide vital goods (such as crops and timber) and services (such as water purification and carbon capture). Restoring and securing our stocks of natural capital is increasingly being recognised as an issue that requires attention from all sectors of society.

Take for example the value of coastal wetlands in Scotland, which has been estimated at between £49-£76 million per year, or that pollination provided by insects is thought to be worth at least £43 million per year to Scotland’s economy.

Despite the great benefits derived from it, Scotland's natural capital is still being depleted and this is causing new risks to the economy. The effects of this are already starting to be quantified. For instance, the effects of invasive non-native species through impacts such as damage to forestry, crops and infrastructure have been estimated to cost as much as £200 million per year to the Scottish economy.

Find out more

To find out more about membership and the work of the Scottish Forum, please visit the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital website. You can also follow the Scottish Forum’s progress on Twitter.

Click here to register for updates


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