Ecosystems contribute essential services to the economy and society. A new report “Accounting for ecosystems and their services in the European Union” unravels the benefits that forests, rivers, grasslands, wetlands and other ecosystems provide. It shows how restoring degraded ecosystems has the potential to double nature’s contribution to the EU economy and society.
Based on 2012 data, EU’s ecosystems generated an annual flow of selected seven ecosystem services at the value of € 172 billion. Forests delivered almost half of this supply. In 2019, the economic value provided by a wider set of ecosystem services in the EU amounted to € 234 billion. This value is comparable to the gross value added of agriculture and forestry combined. Water purification is the ecosystem service with the highest aggregated value, followed by nature-based recreation.
The Commission is going to propose the revision of the Regulation on European Environmental Economic Accounts (EEEA) to expand its coverage to include a new module on natural capital accounting, fully consistent with the UN framework. This is in line with the recommendation of the European Court of Auditors and the recent mid-term review of European Strategy for environmental accounts (ESEA) 2019-2023. The EU could then become the global front-runner as being the first continent in the world reporting on changes in ecosystems and their services.
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