What is Natural Capital?

21 January 2020

What is Natural Capital and how does retrofitting buildings with plants support it?

Buzz phrases often rise to the surface of our urban greening message and whilst the phrase Natural Capital is well used in our industry suddenly it’s getting some credence. Where do Scotscape’s services fit into boosting natural capital and what are the benefits?

As described so succinctly by Wikipedia: ‘Natural capital is the world's stock of natural resources which includes geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms. Some natural capital assets provide people with free goods and services, often called ecosystems services. Two of these (clean water and fertile soil) underpin our economy and society and make human life possible.

It is an extension of the economic notion of capital (resources which enable the production of more resources) to goods and services provided by the natural environment. For example, a well-maintained forest or river may provide an indefinitely sustainable flow of new trees or fish, whereas over-use of those resources may lead to a permanent decline in timber availability or fish stocks. Natural capital also provides people with essential services, like water capture, erosion control and crop pollination by insects, which in turn ensure the long-term viability of other natural resources. Since the continuous supply of services from the available natural capital assets is dependent upon a healthy, functioning environment, the structure and diversity of habitats and ecosystems are important components of natural capital. Methods, called 'natural capital asset checks', help decision-makers understand how changes in the current and future performance of natural capital assets will impact on human well-being and the economy.’

living walls london cityscape

In the urban greening space where Scotscape sits, we are amidst interesting times. How every element of both ours and others landscaping practice can work in a positive way to benefit the planet brings exciting times for the industry and for innovation. The United Nations and European Union reported (back in 2016) that by 2020 75% of Europe’s population would be living in cities – that’s approximately 365 million living, breathing and moving humans. How we keep that population functioning well is extremely important. Typically cities are polluted, hot and dry, full of hard impermeable surfaces. It’s uncomfortable, crowded, travel and movement can be problematic and nature is compromised.

New building practices are bringing stringent guidelines to ensure that new developments are resilient and sustainable, how we green up and improve our existing building stock and urban networks to improve natural capital is Scotscape's business. Retrofitting with living walls, green roofs, LivingPillars, smart horticultural content wherever we plant and designing and installing solutions to green up otherwise barren urban landscapes is what we do. The possibilities are endless and the benefits are proven and crystal clear:

The benefits of retrofitting with living walls and green roofs are:

Habitat creation to boost biodiversity

Mitigation of the Urban Heat Island Effect

Management of surface water from flash flooding

Air quality improvements

Reduced noise pollution

Improved health and well-being for city dwellers which means MORE productive citizens.

Living pillars highstreet

Back to our friend ‘Wikipedia’: ‘Methods, called 'natural capital asset checks', help decision-makers understand how changes in the current and future performance of natural capital assets will impact on human well-being and the economy.’

There’s the rub – doing the right thing, retrofitting old building stock, bringing plants and biodiversity back to what we already have and applying intelligent horticulture and water-management to the urban sprawl is where it’s at. Reconnecting humans back to nature to enable happiness and productivity makes sense for everyone, people, business and the planet.

For advice on urban greening and what you could do your your property asset get in touch:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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