Natural Capital: Valuing Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Faculty Member’s Name

Professor Roger Hansell

Faculty Member’s Profile:

Roger I. C. Hansell has been involved in environmental projects since the 1950s. He was jointly a professor in the Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, Canada. He has been a visiting Professor at Universite Libre, Brussels, University of Sussex, University of Leicester, State University of Sao Paolo, the Netaji Institute , Kolkatta, and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto.

Professor Hansell is a director of International Innovation Projects and co-editor of the scholarly Journal of Environmental Peace. He has been Associate Director, Research, and Acting Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies, and served six years as Director of the Toront Graduate Program of Toxicology. In 2002 he became Executive Director of the Noble Institution for Environmental Peace, and along with Professor Biswajit Ganguly, is a founder of the Noble Foundation for Environmental Peace in Kolkatta, India.

Professor Hansell’s research extends from the problems of integrating ecology with economics, the theory of stability in complex systems, and practical measures to adapt cities for climate change.

Professor Hansell is the President of Noble International University, USA.

He is an avid Morris folk dancer and musician, sketches, writes Haiku and plays Tai Chi.  He currently lives near Toronto.

Course Code:


Natural Capital: Valuing Ecosystems and Biodiversity.



The course will be an interactive format with student-led discussions directed by the moderator.

Skype/webcam Discussions



Upon agreement


Starting with a non-linear view of ecosystem behaviour and human interaction we examine the foundations of the concept of Natural Capital and its applications. The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth’s life-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the economic value of the planet.  This course will bring together the many ideas and views focussing on valuing biodiversity, ecosystems and natural resources.

*Short Structural Outline:

Skype/webcam Discussions will be organized around four main themes: measuring the wealth of natural resources, valuing biodiversity and ecosystems, models for bringing economics and ecology together, and issues on sustainability.


Introduction: How Systems Change

Handout: Chaos and Equilibrium.   R. Hansell


A Non-linear Look at Ecosystems.



Natural Capital: Differing Opinions


“What Natural Capital Is and Does” and “Depletion and Valuation” in Thomas Prugh. 1995. Natural Capital and Human Economic Survival.  p. 51-105.



Valuing Ecosystems and Biodiversity


“Valuing the Environment” in David Pearce et al. 1989. Blueprint for a Green Economy. p. 51-92.

“Biological Diversity” in David Pearce. 1995. Blueprint 4: Capturing Global Environmental Value. p. 35-59.

“Introduction” in PCAST Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystems. 1998. Teaming with Life: Investing in Science to Understand and Use America’s Living Capital. <>

US Economic Benefits of Natural Systems to Business and Society NOAA Economics



Natural Capital Accounting


“The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital” in Robert Costanza et al. 1997. Nature 387 p. 253-260.

“Expanding the Measure of Wealth” by John Dixon and Kirk Hamilton in Finance and Development. 1996. <>

Statistics Canada. 1997. Econnections: Linking the Environment and the Economy.

Environment Canada. 1999. The Importance of Nature to Canadians: Survey Highlights. <>

Genuine Progress Index. <>



Markets: Guiding the Invisible Hand


“A New Market Mechanism for  Integrating Development, Growth and the Ecosystem” Hansell,R.,A.Fenech and T.Hansell. 2003



Emissions Trading


“Effects of emission credit trading programs” by E. Joseph Duckett, Vice President, Eichleay Engineers Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.

“An Environmental Perspective on International Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading” speaking notes from Conference titled After Kyoto: Allocating Responsibility for Reducing Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions



When Ecology  Meets Economics


Wackernagel, M and W. Rees 1996 The Ecological Footprint

“Briefing ecology and economics” in Nature Vol 395 p. 426-30 and p. 433-4.

“Natural capital: Views from many perspectives” by Fenech et al. 1999. In Proceedings of the Third Biennial Conference of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics Nature, Wealth and the Human Economy in the Next Millennium, August 1999.



Discounting the Future


“Rational Forest Productivity Decline” by James MacLellan in Fenech, Hamilton and Hansell Special Issue of Kluwer on Natural Capital.



Human Sustainability


“Measures of economic progress” in David Pearce. 1993. Blueprint 3: Measuring Sustainable Development. p. 28-47.

“Socioeconomic equity, sustainability and earth’s carrying capacity” by Gretchen Daily and Paul Ehrlich. 1996. In Ecological Applications 6(4) p. 991-1001.

“Eight estimates of human carrying capacity” in Joel Cohen. 1995. How Many People Can the Earth Support? p. 161-211.



Putting it all together

Lacombe Morgane and Aronson James, 2009. Restoring natural capital in arid and semiarid regions combining ecosystem health with human wellbeing. Les dossiers thématiques du CSFD. N° 7



Student presentations Part I



Student Presentations Part II


  1. What have we learned? Interactive discussion.



*Textbooks and Reading List:

Costanza, Robert (Lead Author); Cutler J. Cleveland (Topic Editor). 2008. “Natural capital.” In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth February 26, 2007; Last revised July 31, 2008; Retrieved September 5, 2008.

Natural Capital Project. A joint venture among The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund.


Grading will be determined by assignment (20%), paper proposal (15%), participation (15%), student presentation and paper (the best of which will be marked at 50%).

For further information on this or other courses taught by the faculty member please contact our student advisor at:

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