Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services - India


Mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystems into policy through natural capital accounting

Project overview

The Social Statistics Division (SSD) of the National Statistical Office of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) of India is the nodal agency for implementation of the European Union- funded project Natural Capital Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (NCAVES) in India. The role of MoSPI is to coordinate with all the stakeholders through a consultative process.

Project activities and results

The activities and related outputs of the project NCAVES in India include:

Compilation of a range of ecosystem accounts and studies at the national level

In September 2018, the NSO released India’s first official environmental economic accounts containing asset accounts in physical terms of four natural resources – forest, land, minerals and water. The accounts revealed a nuanced picture of the state of India’s natural capital, with several regions showing a net-positive increases in assets like forest cover and carbon stock. However, the accounts also revealed potentially unsustainable trends in groundwater extraction in some states.

The second annual SEEA report entitled EnviStats India 2019 Vol. II Environment Accounts envisages to add condition layers  to the physical accounts based on the quality characteristics, namely,  soil nutrient index and water quality accounts in respect of surface, ground and sea water. In addition, to help understand the contribution of ecosystem services to the economy, values of two ecosystem services have been compiled for all the States of the country – cropland ecosystem services and nature-based tourism. 
The third annual SEEA report published by NSO India in the issue EnviStats India 2020 is structured in six thematic chapters featuring land, croplands, forests, wetland, as well as cross-cutting chapters on biodiversity and SEEA based indicators.
The fourth annual SEEA report published by NSO India in the issue "EnviStats India 2021 (vol II): Environment Accounts" covers crop provisioning services, water quality accounts, soil nutrient indices and species richness of IUCN Red list. 

















The final NCAVES India project report provides an overview of the work undertaken in India to compile ecosystem accounts under the SEEA Ecosystem Accounting framework.  The report includes the compilation of experimental ecosystem extent, condition and ecosystem services accounts as well as biodiversity thematic accounts and a section of indicators derived from the accounts






Pilot ecosytem accounts at sub-national level

In the State of Karnataka, a suite of ecosystem accounts is being developed led by the Indian Institute of Science assessing a range of ecosystem services. The state of Karnataka has been identified in a landscape assessment due to a. good data availability, strong technical capacity within local research institutes, and policy interest in using an accounting approach.

These accounts will be applied in subsequent scenario analysis, assessing conservation and afforestation policies.

The experiences learned through the piloting will provide important inputs into the development of guidelines and standardisation of methods through the revision process of the SEEA EEA.



India has contributed to the testing of indicators that are derived through the accounts. India is currently also chairing the Taskforce on Indicators established under the SEEA EEA revision process.

NCA Roadmap

Building on the landscape assessment and a subsequent policy assessment, a NCA roadmap is being developed, that will be discussed during the upcoming Indian National Forum (14-28 January 2021)

Economic Valuation Tool (EVL)

An Indian EVL (Economic Valuation Tool) that scrutinizes and summarizes the results of existing valuation studies by ecosystem type, ecosystem service, and by valuation method is being developed. The tool will be useful for environmental impact assessments as well as for environmental accounting.


The SEEA in India

India has been compiling environmental statistics since 1997 when the Central Statistics Office (CSO) released the first issue of the Compendium of Environment Statistics, based on the United Nations Framework for Development of Environment Statistics 1984. Since its inception in 1997, 16 issues of the publication have been released, presenting data relating to the environment of the country.

Work on environmental economic accounting began in 2011, when a high level Expert Group under the Chairmanship of Prof. Sir Partha Dasgupta, U.K. was constituted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) with the mandate of developing a framework for green national accounts of India and preparing a roadmap to implement the framework. The resulting report, “Green National Accounts in India-A Framework”, laid out a roadmap with short-term, medium-term and long-term activities for implementing the Green Accounting Framework.