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Why Natural Capital Monitoring is now a “must do” for a sustainable future

GSI has recently been encouraged by comments made by chief economist at the Scottish Government, Gary Gillespie, about the value of Scotland’s Natural Capital and how difficult this can be to measure. A sustainable future needs well informed decisions to be made reliant on the current health, capacity, status and risk exposure to our natural assets and how they interact.

A comprehensive assessment has been carried out for the first time of the monetary value of Scotland’s Natural capital. The assessment based, on 2015 data, puts the asset value of Scottish natural capital at an estimated £291 billion – a figure that equates to 37% of the total UK asset valuation for Natural Capital. Source: 2019 The Scottish Government

What is the definition of Natural Capital? How do you attach a value to nature?

Forest Natural Capital

Today, it is now an indisputable fact that human interactions with nature whether direct (such as deforestation or pollution) or indirect (such as climate change) are depleting Natural Capital at an accelerating rate.

Natural Capital is a way of thinking about nature, on a country and global scale, as ‘a stock’ that provides a flow of benefits to people and economies.

It consists of natural capital assets - such as water, forests, and clean air - that together provide humans the means for healthy lives and enable economic activity.

Any adverse changes in Natural Capital can therefore have a potential negative effect on the businesses and societies that depend on it. As we know, there are a complex set of inter-dependencies of the economy on Natural Capital and the impacts such as land exploitation, deforestation, pollution and drought can all impair the resilience of natural capital.

Natural Capital risk assessment, and the subsequent business insights on any disruption can be determined how these Risks may affect key sectors of these countries’ economy.

Raising awareness of Natural Capital risk amongst Governments, financial institutions and business is of paramount importance, specifically in addressing the defined SDG 2030 Objectives.

Across industry, dedicated and trained risk management teams should have access to the latest space data and AI based analytical tools to measure, monitor and assess key Natural Capital concepts. The assessment methodology, its objectives, the inbuilt limitations (of data in particular) all have to be recognised and considered prior to making recommendations and any action taken. If you can’t monitor and measure it, then how can you can manage it?

We are in a time when companies like GSI can innovate and create new methodologies for assessing Natural Capital Risk and linking it to monitoring and assessing environmental policy and financial liabilities.

GSI Analytical Products

Our family of asset intelligence products are designed to provide the measurement of natural capital and insights into the value, health, performance and risk exposure of these precious resources.

In the US alone, 4% of the annual national GDP is dependent on forestry Natural Capital and this is one of the areas that GSI has been commercially measuring and assessing using space data for the last three years.

Today companies and their professional employees have recognised the need to have access to the correct analytical tools and to be trained to identify the ‘Early Warning Signals’ of Natural Capital risk in the day to day operations of an economy.

With the feedback of real, actual implementations and assessment of their effectiveness, then AI based analytics will be refined over time based on actual experiences and the growth of the needs based on rollouts. Earth Observation techniques combined with the latest AI advances are only now being acknowledged and recognised by the business mainstream. This is evident with the UN initiative, Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance (GISD), a group of the world’s largest business leaders. Allianz, UBS, Bank of America and other organisations pledged, in October 2019, to billions of dollars of investment into the achievement of a more sustainable future.

Technologically we are living in exciting times and there is presently a huge opportunity to perhaps not making things right overnight, but to certainly start, without delay, on the journey of appreciating and preserving the world’s limited Natural Capital for a better future.

Natural Water Capital

It is the role of companies like GSI to detect, monitor and estimate the true value of raw materials and locations utilising space derived intelligence. We are already working with several organisations to discover and measure carbon in environmental programmes such as greenhouse gas offsetting and carbon finance.

This will lead to, as an example, better forest management, deforestation prevention and ultimately helping to financially qualify and manage the world’s Natural Capital.

The identified issues and problems being addressed in relation to Natural Capital has now, on a global scale, moved from a ‘nice to do’ to a ‘must do’.

If this is something that your organisation could benefit from, please contact a member of the GSI team via

By Gavin Tweedie, CEO


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