The Integrated system for Natural Capital Accounting (INCA) in Europe: twelve lessons learned from empirical ecosystem service accounting

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The Integrated system for Natural Capital Accounting (INCA) was developed and supported by the European Commission to test and implement the System of integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA). Through the compilation of nine Ecosystem Services (ES) accounts, INCA can make available to any interested ecosystem accountant a number of lessons learned. Amongst the conceptual lessons learned, we can mention: (i) for accounting purposes, ES should be clustered according to the existence (or not) of a sustainability threshold; (ii) the assessment of ES flow results from the interaction of an ES potential and an ES demand; (iii) the ES demand can be spatially identified, but for an overarching environmental target, this is not possible; ES potential and ES demand could mis-match; (iv) because the demand remains unsatisfied; (v) because the ES is used above its sustainability threshold or (vi) because part of the potential flow is missed; (vii) there can be a cause-and-effect relationship between ecosystem condition and ES flow; (viii) ES accounts can complement the SEEA Central Framework accounts without overlapping or double counting. Amongst the methodological lessons learned, we can mention: (ix) already exiting ES assessments do not directly provide ES accounts, but will likely need some additional processing; (x) ES cannot be defined by default as intermediate; (xi) the ES remaining within ecosystems cannot be reported as final; (xii) the assessment and accounting of ES can be undertaken throughout a fast track approach or more demanding modelling procedures.
Alessandra La Notte, Sara Vallecillo, Ioanna Grammatikopoulou, Chiara Polce, Carlo Rega, Grazia Zulian, Georgia Kakoulaki, Bruna Grizzetti, Silvia Ferrini, Mayra Zurbaran-Nucci, Eduardo Garcia Bendito, Veronika Vysna, Maria Luisa Paracchini, Joachim Maes
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