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A blueprint towards accounting for the management of ecosystems

Clément Feger (AgroParisTech and Centre for Ecology and Conservation Sciences (CESCO), National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France)
Laurent Mermet (AgroParisTech and Centre for Ecology and Conservation Sciences (CESCO), National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 18 September 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new ecological-issues-centered accounting research agenda, at the crossroads of accounting research and conservation science.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a case study of the Natural Capital Project, the research examines the efforts and challenges of conservation practitioners regarding the use of evaluative information systems for conservation (EISC) in complex social and ecological contexts. It discusses why and how, to address these challenges, EISC promoters would benefit from theoretical and empirical insights coming from accounting research.

Findings

The paper suggests that the use of new information systems centered on organized collective action for biodiversity conservation should be regarded as a new type of accounting for the management of ecosystems, complementary to organization-centered biodiversity accounting and to ecosystem accounting at the national scale. A research agenda inspired by critical accounting should be developed for EISC design and use by: critically analyzing the organizational models currently underlying the use of new calculative practices for ecosystems; and developing new analytical and practical avenues on the basis of more explicit and powerful theories adapted to collective action for conservation perimeters.

Originality/value

The paper shows the importance of combining three domains of research and practice that are usually disconnected: the design and use of innovative information systems in biodiversity conservation research and practice; accounting research; and theories and conceptual models of collective action to resolve ecological challenges.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The initial idea of this paper is a result of one of the authors’ being invited as a fellow by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (Oxford University). The authors are grateful to Suez Eau France and the Association Nationale de Recherche et Technologie (ANRT) for the sustained funding of the subsequent research. The authors would also like to express gratitude for the generous support of the Alliance Program as well as the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions’ (Earth Institute, Columbia University) warm welcome of one of the authors as a visiting scholar whilst writing this paper. The authors wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers as well as the editors of this special issue who have helped us to substantially improve the paper.

Citation

Feger, C. and Mermet, L. (2017), "A blueprint towards accounting for the management of ecosystems", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 1511-1536. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-12-2015-2360

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited