Natural capital consists of services and stocks of resources that nature provides to us. These ecosystem services and stocks fulfil a variety of functions, such as food production and climate control in cities. The services are interrelated, too. Under 'Other' you will find maps that do not fall under the services below.

The ecosystem services and stocks were defined in accordance with the European Union's CICES classification(Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services). The classification was developed for the purpose of an internationally harmonised nomenclature, enabling ecosystem services to be mapped Europe-wide. This is an initial embodiment of the European Biodiversity Strategy.

Natural capital contributes to the well-being and prosperity of people. Clean air, for example, is important for preventing respiratory disorders, while green surroundings encourage us to take more exercise. Besides having beneficial health effects, the preservation of natural capital serves an economic interest. It can yield proceeds from the sale of wood and fish, or create added value for tourism and the housing market. Nature can also save costs, such as the pollination of crops by bees and natural pest control by insects.

Economic policy plans do not presently factor in many of the effects of natural capital on human well-being and prosperity. As the World Bank has stated, a new standard is necessary to measure the output of an economy: a standard that examines prosperity in its entirety, including the value of our natural capital. The Atlas of Natural Capital is a first step towards developing a standard of this kind. For more information, see 'About Atlas of NaturalCapital'.