The Ecological Citizen

A free-to-access publication confronting human supremacy in defence of the Earth


Long article

Noting some effects of fabricating ‘nature’ as ‘natural capital’

Sian Sullivan

The Ecological Citizen Vol 1 No 1 2017: 65–73

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First published: 1 July 2017  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


The contemporary moment of global ecological crisis is also a moment wherein 'nature' is being named and framed as 'natural capital'. This article considers aspects of this fabrication of 'natural capital', drawing attention to three connected processes: [1] commensuration, through which different elements of the natural world are made to correspond to one another through applying a common measure; [2] aggregation, through which different aspects of the material world are conceptualized together, enabling calculations of a total or 'net' quantity; and [3] capitalization, through which conserved 'standing natures' can be financed and developed as capital assets. The article queries the social and environmental benefits claimed for these processes of fabrication, drawing attention to some of the justice implications of asserting natural capital valuations for nature. In considering whether the conservation of 'natural capital' is the same as the conservation of 'nature', the article emphasizes the constitutive (i.e. world-making) implications of the naming and framing of 'nature' as 'natural capital'.



Conservation, Natural capital, Nature, Values