Research Area:
Landscape Change and Management

Accounting I

Integration of ecosystems and ecosystem services into environmental economic accounting (EAA). Theoretical framework and methodological foundations.


In Germany and around the world (e.g. CBD 2010, keyword Aichi targets, EC 2011, keyword EU-Biodiversity Strategy 2020, Action 5; UN 2017, keyword SEEA-EEA), there is increasing political recognition that social prosperity is not only based on the contribution of human work and man-mad capital, and hence is not fully captured by commonly used measures such as the gross domestic product. In the meantime, modern economic information systems should include also social capital and natural capital as fundamental factors of the wealth of nations. In order to strengthen the perception of “natural capital” in society and to strengthen the national accounting system, these national accounting systems should become more complete and inclusive by adequately calculating the wealth of national ecosystems (natural capital), the ecosystem services (ES), related factors of biodiversity and by capturing their benefits to individuals and society. The integration of these values into national accounts, and in particular environmental-economic accounts (SEEA), will help politicians and business leaders make decisions affecting natural capital better informed and sustainable as well as establish financing mechanisms for the conservation of natural resources.


The objective of the R+D project is to develop in a pilot phase the theoretical framework and methodological foundations for the consideration of ecosystems and ecosystem services in the environmental economic accounts. The following sub-goals are in the foreground:

  • Analysis of theoretical framework conditions,
  • Elaboration of methodological basics for an accounting in Germany,
  • the preparation of a feasibility analysis (inital accounting) on the basis of case studies as well as
  • Recommendations for action in the sense of an action plan for the further development of an extension of the UGR.

The research project also focuses on the question of what added value can be expected from an integration of ESS into the national accounts beyond the existing indicator systems.

Fig. 1: Ecosystem and ecosystem services accounting framework (adapted from UN 2017).


The basic work on the integration of ecosystem services into the national accounts has been completed and published in an article in the journal Natur und Landschaft.

A milestone was the preparation and launching of a policy brief entitled "The overlooked values of nature. Ecosystem services in Germany's economic reporting", which contributed to a Small Inquiry and the German government's statement on the inclusion of natural capital and ecosystems in policy and reporting systems.

Interim results of the project were presented at an international conference in Bonn in April 2018 and at the German Nature Conservation Day in Kiel in September 2018. Both conference papers were published in the respective proceedings. The project team has led a session on accounting at the Ecosystem Service Partnership-World-Conference in Hannover in October 2019 and presented its own results there.

An Ecosystem Extent Account for the years 2012, 2015 and 2018 was calculated and proposals for the accounting of three selected ecosystem services were developed and implemented. The case studies were agricultural soils / land sealing (provisioning ecosystem services), biodiversity conservation (cultural ecosystem services) and urban green space (cultural ecosystem services). The results were published in a book by the European Commission. In addition, a first "National Workshop for a future Ecosystem Accounting in Germany" was organised and held in Hannover in March 2020.


Grunewald, K.; Hartje, V.; Meier, S.; Sauer, A.; Schweppe-Kraft, B.; Syrbe, R.-U.; Zieschank, R.; Ekinci, B.; Hirschfeld, J. (2021): National accounting of ecosystem extents and services in Germany: a pilot project. In: La Notte, A.; Grammatikopoulou, I.; Grunewald, K.; Barton, D.; Ekinci, B. Ecosystem and ecosystem services accounts: time for applications. EUR 30588 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, doi:10.2760/01033, JRC123667. p. 35-49

La Notte, A.; Grammatikopoulou, I.; Grunewald, K.; Barton, D.; Ekinci, B. (2021): Ecosystem and ecosystem services accounts: time for applications. EUR 30588 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, JRC123667, doi:10.2760/01033

Grunewald K., Schweppe-Kraft B., Syrbe R.-U., Meier S., Krüger T., Schorcht M., Walz U. (2020): Hierarchical classification system of Germany’s ecosystems as basis for an ecosystem accounting – methods and first results. One Ecosystem 5: e50648.

Grunewald K., Schweppe-Kraft B., Syrbe R.-U., Meier S., Michel C., Richter B., Schorcht M., Walz U. (2020): Hierarchisches Klassifikationssystem der Ökosysteme Deutschlands als Grundlage einer übergreifenden Ökosystem-Bilanzierung. Natur und Landschaft 95/3, pp. 118-128

Syrbe, R.-U.; Pekker, R.; Grunewald, K.; Hirschfeld, J.; Zieschank, R. (2019): Deutschlandweite Erfassung und Bewertung von Ökosystemleistungen und Naturkapital. In: DNT-Journal 2019, S. 200-212

Grunewald, K., Pekker, R., Zieschank, R., Hirschfeld, J., Schweppe-Kraft, B., Syrbe, R-U. (2019): Grundlagen einer Integration von Ökosystemen und Ökosystemleistungen in die Umweltökonomische Gesamtrechnung in Deutschland. Natur und Landschaft 94/8, S. 330-338.

Grunewald, K., Pekker, R., Zieschank, R., Hirschfeld, J., Schweppe-Kraft, B., Syrbe, R.-U. (2019): Foundations of the integration of ecosystems and ecosystem services into the Environmental-Economic Accounts in Germany. In: Ekinci/Interwies/Matauschek/Petersen (Eds.) Expert Meeting on Ecosystem Valuation in the Context of Natural Capital Accounting (BfN-Skripten 525), S. 11-23 (BfN, ISBN 978-3-89624-262-4)




Dr. Karsten Grunewald
Phone +49 351 4679 227

Dr. Ralf-Uwe Syrbe
Phone +49 351 4679 219


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  • Technische Universität Berlin, Fachgebiet Landschaftsökonomie
    Ansprechpartner: Prof. Dr. Jesko Hirschfeld, Rachel Pekker
  • Forschungszentrum für Umweltpolitik an der Freien Universität Berlin (FFU), Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften
    Ansprechpartner: Dipl-Verw.Wiss. Roland Zieschank


Policy Brief, deutsch (PDF)