Ecological Polygon

The Ecological Polygon serves as the foundational unit of natural capital accounting within the RealValue framework. It is the 'place' of ecological stocks which gives bounty to the ecological flows.

An ecological polygon can be any size, anywhere in the world, of any ecosystem composition. It can be an arbitrarily drawn or selected polygon, or can be a very specific polygon based on biophysicality, jurisdictional boundaries or property legal description.

In most cases the property legal description will and should be used as the boundary of an ecological polygon to allow for certification within the BASIN Protocol.

Main Components

The ecological polygon has four main components: extent, characteristics, condition, and on/off record data.

Ecosystem Extent

This is the size and make up of the polygon. It can be in hectares or acres and all ecosystem types present in the polygon should be delineated based on size. If possible, past and future ecosystem composition should be noted and assessed.

Ecosystem Characteristics

At a minimum, the land cover and ecosystem types present in the polygon should be delineated using the BASIN Ecosystems. Other data should also be included such as IUCN Ecosystem Functional Groups (EFG), One Earth Bioregions, and Resolve Ecoregions.

Ecosystem Condition

This is an assessment of ecosystem state, function and overall condition. It should be applied to each ecosystem present in the polygon individually. We currently rank each ecosystem on a scale of 1-10 with a 10 being an undisturbed, pristine, fully functioning ecosystem. The condition metric is a multiplier to ecosystem extent and the BASIN RealValues discussed in the next section.

SEEA Ecosystem Condition Typology (ECT)

If time and budget permits, the SEEA Ecosystem Condition Typology (ECT) should be applied to the polygon. The ECT assesses:

  • A: Abiotic: Physical & Chemical characteristics;

  • B: Biotic: Compositional, Structural, & Functional characteristics;

  • C: Landscape & Seascape characteristics

SEED Biocomplexity

Separately we are hoping to be a beta tester of Crowther Lab ETH Zürich's SEED Biocomplexity. SEED is a standardized biodiversity index that measures the full complexity of nature. Similar to our 1-10 multiplier, SEED uses a 0-1 scale and assesses the variation and interactions across:

  • Genetic diversity within species

  • Species diversity between species

  • Ecosystem diversity across ecosystems

On/Off Record Data

As much real asset and real property data as possible should be gathered about the polygon, both of record (public) and off record (private). This should include but is in no way limited to title reports, appraisals, surveys, deed, leases, agreements, mineral and energy reports, environmental assessments, property condition reports, ecological assessments, soils reports, zoning designation, flood plain data, and property financials. Other data can also prove useful such as demographic and income reports, crime reports, long term land use master plans and transportation plans. Other qualitative data such as owner, neighbor, and local sentiment about the place and region is also useful.

Data and Assessment Quality and Confidence

The range and quality of data for polygons will vary based on location, jurisdiction, ownership, purpose of the assessment and valuation, budget, timeline and many other factors. As RealValue is an estimate of value, data quality is important but not paramount. Best efforts should be made to gather as much data as possible, make the best assessment with reasonable confidence, and then clearly state and disclose the data and methodology.

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