An important issue in the debate about the use and conservation of natural ecosystems is the degree to which these ecosystems and their functions should be considered 'critical'. This paper presents some guidelines to determine the criticality of natural capital, based on two main criteria. The first criterion is the 'importance' of natural ecosystems (ecological, socio-cultural and economic) and the second is the degree of 'threat' based on the quantity and quality of the (remaining) natural areas in a given region. It is argued that the two criteria are complementary and need to be taken into account simultaneously when determining the criticality of natural capital. Finally, the paper presents and discusses some possibilities for the development of a (critical) natural capital index for Europe. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- safe minimum standard