Monetization of Ecosystem Services:Bioeconomy and Natural Capital

The research on ecosystem services sheds light on valuable information of the benefits and contributions provided by nature on behalf of humankind1. For this reason, society must treasure, from different perspectives, the assets made available to us by nature. There are three categories of ecosystem services: provisioning services (biomass, genetic resources), regulation services (water, soil, pollination, plague control), and cultural services (recreation).

Bioeconomy promotes sustainable development, and it encourages the use of biological resources as an alternative to the use of materials originating from fossil fuels2. This goal is achieved through sustainable management strategies of biological resources to be applied to many industries. The result of this change in paradigm is the reconciliation of environment, economic development and society.

Natural capital is a term that encompasses all renewable and non-renewable natural resources3, and it plays a crucial role in the existence of bioeconomy because, if the goods and services flow from nature decreases or disappears, this would result in a restriction to implement a bioeconomy strategy. Furthermore, in order to create a stable framework for the development of ecosystem service programs, there should be a clear understanding of natural capital, dialogue among all the stakeholders and the incorporation of environmental, socio-cultural and economic views 4.

Integrated Cascade Model: Natural Capital and Bioeconomy

(Adapted from Neill et al, 20205)
(Adapted from Neill et al, 20205)



To identify the ecosystem services that provide benefits to bioeconomy as the basis for dialogue among stakeholders of the value chain in order to implement shared strategies.


To determine the features of the ecosystem services that will allow their monetization for further use in the designing of products and services useful for the development of bioeconomy strategies with a circular orientation.


To recognize the potential impacts of products and services from the bioeconomy in order to establish an environmental footprint and socio-economic indicators for a comprehensive management of the natural capital.

Research Design


To describe the location where the ecosystem services would take place, with the support of GIS (Geographic Information System) for the gathering, management, and analysis of natural resources, biodiversity and socio-economic data in order to identify potential uses, management problems and possible solutions.


To gather primary and secondary data of the parts of the ecosystem services: supply, service, and contribution to well-being in order to obtain value measures6. ICTs and digital tools will be used to obtain this data for an efficient and effective decision-making process of products and services creation to further develop bioeconomy strategies with a circular orientation.


To identify and quantify indicators of potential impacts from products and services of the bioeconomy that might affect the environment, society and economy. The LCSA (Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment) tool will be applied to these products and services.

1 TEEB. 2010. The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity. Mainstreaming the economics of nature: a synthesis of the approach, conclusions and recommendations of TEEB. Access on 14.03.2021
2D’Ama D’Amato, D., Bartkowski, B., Droste, N. 2020. Reviewing the interface of bioeconomy and ecosystem service research. In Ambio 49 (12), pp. 1878–1896. DOI: 10.1007/s13280-020-01374-0.
3 Vander Velde, B., 2016. What on Earth is ‘natural capital’? Access on 23.03.2021
4 Marchetti, M., Vizarri, M., Lasserre , B., aSallustio, l., and Tavone, A, 2014. Natural capital and bioeconomy: challenges and opportunities for forestry. Annals of Silvicultural Research; 38 (2), 2014:62
5 Neill, A., O’Donoghue, C., Stout, J. C. 2020. A Natural Capital Lens for a Sustainable Bioeconomy. Determining the Unrealised and Unrecognised Services from Nature. In Sustainability 12 (19), p. 8033. DOI: 10.3390/su12198033.
6 Tallis, H., Mooney, H., Andelman, S., Balvanera, P., Cramer, W., Karp, D., et al., 2012. A global system for monitoring ecosystem service change. BioScience, 62, 979–980
(Adaptado de Neil et al, 20205)