The eight forms of community wealth, Part 5: Natural capital

There are eight forms of community wealth that, when working together, enhance economic development in rural communities. This article focuses on one of those forms: natural capital.

In a previous article we discussed WealthWorks, a program provided through Yellow Wood Associates. The WealthWorks approach incorporates eight forms of community wealth to holistically address economic development in rural communities. The fifth form of community wealth is natural capital.

Natural capital is a community’s unimpaired environmental assets (e.g. air, water, land, flora, fauna, etc.) in a region.

Natural capital is defined as having three major components:

  1. Non-renewable resources such as oil and minerals that are extracted from ecosystems
  2. Renewable resources such as fish, wood, and drinking water that are produced and maintained by the processes and functions of ecosystems
  3. Environmental services such as maintenance of the quality of the atmosphere, climate, operation of the hydrological cycle including flood controls and drinking water supply, waste assimilation, recycling of nutrients, generation of soils, pollination of crops and the maintenance of a vast genetic library

Investments in natu­ral capital include preservation, restoration and maintenance. Earnings or income includes a sustainable supply of raw materials and environmental services. Natural capital and its systems are es­sential for life. People can destroy, degrade, impair and/or restore natural capital but cannot create it.

A West Michigan team has recently completed their WealthWorks training and has begun project development and implementation, focusing on trails and pathways. A Michigan State University Extension Educator is part of this team, serving in the role of coordinator.

Thank you to Yellow Wood Associates who provided permission for use of their materials. To learn how to register for upcoming WealthWorks training programs, contact Yellow Wood Associates.

Learn about the other forms of community wealth:

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