UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


A natural capital reporting framework for the Brazilian Pantanal

River in a jungle

14 January 2021

This 6-month project, in partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, aims to develop a natural capital indicator framework that will provide local decision-makers with a reporting system of environment, economic and social indicators for the Pantanal region in Brazil. 

The Pantanal region of Brazil, surrounded by the Amazonia, Cerrado, and Chaco biomes, is a megadiverse tropical wetland. It supports numerous valuable ecosystem services including the provision of wild foods, environmental regulation and maintenance services such as carbon storage and sediment retention, a diverse tourism industry and a growing cattle ranching industry. The biome has recently received global attention due to an alarming increase in the frequency and extent of wildfires, the causes of which are diverse and complex (Libonati et al. 2020). A challenge for decision-makers is how to report on the environmental and socio-economic impacts of these competing human uses of the biome, in order to inform land use decisions that maximise benefits to local, regional and global communities whilst maintaining ecosystem integrity.

Due to the geographical scale of the Pantanal region, this pilot project will initially focus on the state of Mato Grosso do Sul (MS). We will apply an indicator framework for natural capital reporting (Fairbrass et al. 2020) to bring together the varied, but currently disparate, sources of environmental and socio-economic data and indicators in the state. This framework is based on the concept of natural capital, the stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources on earth (e.g., plants, animals, air, water, soils, and minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits or “services” to people. We will bring together the Human Development Index, recently tailored to the unique context of MS (Tomei et al. 2020), with the environmental and economic indicators available for MS, to produce a pilot natural capital indicator reporting system for the Pantanal.

    Impact and outreach 

    The project will contribute to progress on SDG Target 17.19 which recognises that economic indicators, such as GDP, give only a partial picture of the economic status of a country. It is also relevant to the ongoing selection of indicators for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and environmental-economic accounting activities in Brazil. 


    The project will provide decision-makers with a structured approach to selecting natural capital indicators with which to make decisions about economic development in that take into account natural capital and associated flows of benefits of the Pantanal ecosystem.

    • Prof. Celma Riberio (University of São Paulo) 
    • Prof. Claudio Oller (University of São Paulo)
    • Dr Silvia Maria Sartor (University of São Paulo) 


    • Fairbrass, A., G. Mace, P. Ekins, and B. Milligan. 2020. ‘The Natural Capital Indicator Framework (NCIF) for Improved National Natural Capital Reporting’. Ecosystem Services 46 (December): 101198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2020.101198.
    • Libonati, Renata, Carlos C. DaCamara, Leonardo F. Peres, Lino A. Sander de Carvalho, and Letícia C. Garcia. 2020. ‘Rescue Brazil’s Burning Pantanal Wetlands’. Nature 588 (7837): 217–19. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-03464-1.
    • Tomei, Julia, Lucas Lyrio de Oliveira, Celma de Oliveira Ribeiro, Linda Lee Ho, and Luis Guillermo Montoya. 2020. ‘Assessing the Relationship between Sugarcane Expansion and Human Development at the Municipal Level: A Case Study of Mato Grosso Do Sul, Brazil’. Biomass and Bioenergy 141: 105700.


    Photo by Alexis Mora Angulo on Unsplash