The biosphere of the Earth is essential to human survival and development. The services of ecosystems are critical to the functioning of the Earth's life-support system. They contribute to human welfare both directly and indirectly. Ecological capital refers to the sum of the direct biological resources value and the indirect ecosystem services value. It is necessary to estimate the ecological capital in order to bring it to the society and market economic system, and draw the social attention to ecological environment constructions. An estimation model for ecological capital based on remote sensing is presented in this paper. The parameters in the model are quantitatively measured using NOAA/AVHRR and other ancillary data, including the land cover types, the vegetation coverage, and the vegetation net primary productivity (NPP) of terrestrial ecosystem. Based on the economic parameters in previously published studies and a few original calculations, the annual ecological capital of the entire terrestrial ecosystem of China is quantitatively estimated at 6.44 trillion (10(12)) yuan (RMB), and the spatial distribution of the ecological capital is also analyzed. Traditional ecological methods to ecological capital measurement are based on homogeneous plot scales, and the regional scaling is a key problem in their applications. As the proposed remote sensing approach, it provides a new method to ecological capital measurement completely based on observation data. It can not only overcome the regional scaling problem easily, but also allows the ecological capital to be estimated objectively and spatial-explicitly.
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