Holistic Management Makes Ecosystems Healthier, People Wealthier

baltic sea natural capital yale fenichel

Economists agree that natural ecosystems store large quantities of wealth, but the challenge of measuring that wealth has prevented it from being included in typical accounting systems.

A new Yale-led study tackles this challenge by recognizing the value of “natural capital” assets — such as groundwater or fish species — and connecting them with holistic ecosystem management to calculate asset values for the interacting parts of an ecosystem.

Using as a case study the Baltic Sea fishery ecosystem, the researchers project that the use of a holistic management scheme, which tracks multiple connected species, will increase the stored wealth of the entire system over five decades. Management of a single species stock, meanwhile, will generally produce declining wealth.