Environmental accounting for ecosystem conservation: Linking societal and ecosystem metabolisms

24 February 2017
Lomas & Giampietro

Lomas P.L. & Giampietro M. 2017. Environmental accounting for ecosystem conservation: Linking societal and ecosystem metabolisms. Ecological Modelling, 346: 10–19. Doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2016.12.009 (green open access).


This paper proposes an approach to environmental accounting useful for studying the feasibility of socio-economic systems in relation to the external constraints posed by ecological compatibility. The approach is based on a multi-scale analysis of the metabolic pattern of ecosystems and societies and it provides an integrated characterization of the resulting interaction. The text starts with a theoretical part explaining (i) the implicit epistemological revolution implied by the notion of ecosystem metabolism and the fund-flow model developed by Georgescu-Roegen applied to environmental accounting, and (ii) the potentials of this approach to create indicators to assess ecological integrity and environmental impacts. This revolution also makes it possible to carry out a multi-scale integrated assessment of ecosystem and societal metabolisms at the territorial level. In the second part, two applications of this approach using an indicator of the negentropic cost show the possibility to characterize in quantitative and qualitative terms degrees of alteration (crop cultivation, tree plantations) for different biomes (tropical and boreal forests). Also, a case study for land use scenarios has been included. The proposed approach represents an integrated multi-scale tool for the analysis of nature conservation scenarios and strategies.


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