Resource requirements for ecosystem conservation: A combined industrial and natural ecology approach to quantifying natural capital use in nature: Quantifying ecosystem needs

Adam R. Mason, Alfy Gathorne-Hardy, Chris White, Yves Plancherel, Jem Woods, Rupert J. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Socioeconomic demand for natural capital is causing catastrophic losses of biodiversity and ecosystem functionality, most notably in regions where socioeconomic-and eco-systems compete for natural capital, e.g., energy (animal or plant matter). However, a poor quantitative understanding of what natural capital is needed to support biodiversity in ecosystems, while at the same time satisfy human development needs-those associated with human development within socioeconomic systems-undermines our ability to sustainably manage global stocks of natural capital. Here we describe a novel concept and accompanying methodology (relating the adult body mass of terrestrial species to their requirements for land area, water, and energy) to quantify the natural capital needed to support terrestrial species within ecosystems, analogous to how natural capital use by humans is quantified in a socioeconomic context. We apply this methodology to quantify the amount of natural capital needed to support species observed using a specific surveyed site in Scotland. We find that the site can support a larger assemblage of species than those observed using the site; a primary aim of the rewilding project taking place there. This method conceptualises, for the first time, a comprehensive "dual-system" approach: modelling natural capital use in socioeconomic-and eco-systems simultaneously. It can facilitate the management of natural capital at the global scale, and in both the conservation and creation (e.g., rewilding) of biodiversity within managed ecosystems, representing an advancement in determining what socioeconomic trade-offs are needed to achieve contemporary conservation targets alongside ongoing human development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9132
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume12
Issue number8
Early online date31 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Natural resources
  • resource management
  • biodiversity
  • conservation

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