28 August 2020
natural capital, environmental accounting, ecosystem accounting, ecosystem services, urban, London, United Kingdom, SEEA, SEEA EEA, Environmental economics, Environmental policy and practice, Public policymaking, Built environment, Sustainability
Government organisations and other public sector bodies are compiling standardised environmental accounts to encourage more sustainable land use choices and improve management of the natural environment and associated benefits. While the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem accounting (SEEA EEA) provides such as framework, practical challenges remain in particular decision-making contexts. In urban areas, natural ecosystems have unique challenges because of anthropogenic pressures, providing a mix of ecosystem services (ES) that may be valued differently compared to non-urban natural ecosystems due to peoples proximity to these. It is unknown whether existing publicly available data sources for urban areas are compatible with the SEEA EEA framework and if these sources are sufficient for the development of an inclusive natural capital accounts. Here, we explore whether an inclusive urban natural capital account that includes a broad range of ES can be compiled from publicly available data sources for Greater London between 2007 and 2018. We showed that it was not possible to compile an inclusive urban natural capital account for London per year consistent with the SEEA EEA framework because of issues with (1) temporal inconsistencies, (2) land cover classifications and (3) lack of public access to certain data sources. Greater collaboration between institutions and other organisations could support our understanding of linkages between ecosystem extent, condition and ES flows. Overall, our findings suggest the need for renewed efforts to develop a cohesive source of publicly available data, which could be supported by making interdisciplinary work standard practise.