Completion of INCA project phase 1
Last summer a European project was started with the goal to develop an integrated accounting system for natural capital and ecosystem services. The first phase of 'Integrated system for Natural Capital and ecosystem services Accounting' (INCA) is scheduled to be completed after the summer of 2016.
The knowledge innovation project for natural capital and ecosystem services accounting (KIP-INCA) is designing a European accounting system to keep track of the annual changes in various ecosystems and ecosystem services. KIP-INCA is an initiative of the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. Accurate measuring data on our natural capital is extremely useful when it comes to adjusting or evaluating current policy. This is particularly so for policy that influences natural resources, such as agricultural, forestry, fisheries and regional development (business activities, living and recreation). An integrated accounting system for natural capital is an essential basis for improved management of ecosystems and ecosystem services.
INCA is the result of the second target of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy which is to maintain and improve ecosystems and ecosystem services. The fifth action item of this target reads, 'to improve knowledge of ecosystems and their services in the EU'. This covers projects relating to mapping and the assessment of natural capital and ecosystem services, such as MAES and INCA. From the point of view of content, INCA links up wherever possible with United Nations proposals relating to a global accounting system for natural capital (UNEP: UN Environmental Programme).
Phase 2: interpretation and implementation of INCA
The INCA accounting system will be based on a combination of various geophysical data taken from existing systems (for example LUCAS, CORINE), regular field observations of biodiversity and ecosystems, and data from earth observation programmes. Ecological models which can extrapolate annual variations in the production of ecosystem services, such as pollination or water storage, will also be used. In the future INCA is going to set up a partnership with various member states to ensure consistent exchanges of national and European data. The partners for the further development and modelling of the data system are organisations which are already active in determining and measuring ecosystem services, such as the Atlas of Natural Capital (ANK) and CBS in the Netherlands. The second phase of the INCA project is expected to start later this year. The number of partners may well be extended in the near future by means of a research call via Horizon 2020, the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
The report about phase 1 of KIP-INCA will probably be published on the INCA website in September or October.