Natural capital

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 ecosystem services. Two of these (clean water and fertile soil) underpin our economy and society, and thus make human life possible.[3][4]

Mangrove swamp at Iriomote Island, Japan, providing beneficial services of sediment accumulation, coastal protection, nursery and fish-spawning grounds which may in turn support coastal fishing communities. At least 35% of the world's stock of mangrove swamps has been destroyed in just 20 years[1]
Remarks from 1937 by FDR on "natural capital" and "balancing the budget of our resources"
Honeybee (Apis mellifera) pollinating an Avocado crop. Healthy stocks of wild and cultivated pollinator species are important to support the farming industry and help ensure food security.
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest. Looked at as a natural capital asset, rainforests provide air and water regulation services, potential sources of new medicines and natural carbon sequestration.
Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory. Loss of natural capital assets may have significant impact on local and global economies, as well as on the climate.[2]
The many components of natural capital can be viewed as providing essential goods and ecosystem services which underpin some of our key global issues, such as food and water supply, minimising climate change and meeting energy needs.

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 catchment, 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.[5] Methods, called 'natural capital asset checks', help decision-makers understand how changes in the current and future performance of natural capital assets will impact human well-being and the economy.[6]