Tourism Natural Capital Account for Botswana

In Botswana, natural capital makes up more than one third of the country’s wealth. An important element of this natural capital is essential for tourism to develop and thrive. The aim of this study was to develop a proposed approach for the establishment of a natural capital account for tourism.

The Brief

There were no countries developing tourism natural capital accounts, and consequently no examples of best practice could be sourced when developing the account for Botswana.  It was therefore necessary to start from first principles, drawing on the United Nations System of Environmental–Economic Accounting and the Tourism Satellite Account Methodological Framework to create the core structure of the Tourism Natural Capital Account.  Acorn worked closely with the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, and Ministry of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs, amongst other public and private sector stakeholders to develop a solution to the Natural Capital Account.

Our Solution

The concept of wildlife in Botswana’s protected areas was recommended as the base for measuring tourism natural capital rather than land or biophysical attributes - the reason being that changes in the wildlife populations may be of more concern or more benefit to tourism than changes in land in the protected areas.

Tourism statistics on demand for Nature Based International Leisure Tourism were obtained from sample surveys and administrative records, whilst statistics on supply were obtained from the registers/lists of tourism businesses in the protected areas from both the Department of Tourism and Statistics Botswana.

Direct tourism contribution to the economy was derived from tourism satellite accounting methodologies.  The tourism resource rent was derived from this tourist spending - the tourism resource rent is the return on the tourism natural capital in the protected areas.  At an appropriate discount rate the tourism natural capital in the protected areas was estimated.


The project provided a prototype for the development of a comprehensive natural capital account in Botswana, and a detailed plan for its full development.

This plan proposed the development of a first WAVES TSA (natural capital account for tourism) within one year, and then an updated and more comprehensive account and measurement system within three years.