Environmental Accounting: A Tool for Supporting Environmental Management and Nature Conservation

Authored by: Pier Paolo Franzese , Elvira Buonocore , Giovanni F. Russo

Managing Human and Social Systems

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138342682
eBook ISBN: 9781003053514
Adobe ISBN:


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Healthy, resilient, and diverse ecosystems are capable of generating natural capital stocks while providing a bundle of ecosystem services vital for human well-being. Environmental accounting is a tool useful for exploring three main dimensions related to the exploitation of natural resources: the assessment of environmental costs, impacts, and benefits. The outcomes of these assessments can support environmental management and nature conservation, providing scientific information to local managers and policy makers in charge for developing sustainable management strategies. Among different environmental accounting methods, emergy accounting is capable of assessing the value of goods and services in terms of work of biosphere invested for their generation. In the context of nature conservation, emergy accounting is particularly useful to assess the value of natural capital stocks and ecosystem services flows by applying a geocentric and donor-side perspective. Recent studies showed the applicability of emergy accounting for assessing the ecological value of natural resources in marine protected areas. Other environmental accounting methods (e.g., eco-exergy) are useful to shed light on different biophysical measures of value based on different features of natural resources. A multicriteria approach to environmental accounting can address the plurality of nature values, supporting the achievements of nature conservation goals while ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources.

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