Resources Science ›› 2018, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (5): 888-898.doi: 10.18402/resci.2018.05.02

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The definition and accounting approaches towards natural resource liabilities

Huimin YAN1,2,3(), Wenpeng DU1,4, Zhiming FENG1,2,3, Yanzhao YANG1,2,3, Xiaoyu SONG5   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Key Laboratory of Assessment of Resources and Environment Carrying Capacity of Ministry of Land and Resources, Beijing 101149, China
    4. College of Earth Science and Resources, Chang-an University, Xi’an 710054, China;
    5. Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Science, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • Received:2018-01-15 Revised:2018-04-18 Online:2018-05-10 Published:2018-05-10


Natural resource asset balance sheets(NRABs)were proposed in 2013 for ecological civilization construction and sustainable development in China. Defining and accounting natural resource liabilities are most important in compiling natural resource asset balance sheets. In this study we illumined the basic connotation of natural resource assets and liabilities via economic properties, preconditions of liabilities, and routes of induced liabilities by natural resource overuse. On this basis we defined categories of natural resource liabilities for quantitatively and qualitatively changes in renewable resources and non-renewable resources caused by excessive consumption. Finally, we proposed methods for natural resource liabilities accounting of land resources, water resources, forest resources and mineral resources. Hopefully this study provides suggestions for compiling natural resource assets balancing sheets. Our research results showed that natural resource liabilities are special liabilities, which should have basic characteristics of liabilities and generated in the process of resource utilization; the sustainability of natural resource utilization is an important basis for defining natural resource liabilities. The change in the quantity and quality of natural resources was the root cause of generating natural resource liabilities, so we proposed that natural resource liabilities of renewable resources was the difference between the amount of resource exploitation and renewables. Natural resource liabilities of non-renewable resources is the difference in resource consumption between the actual exploitation-utilization ratio and the standard exploitation-utilization ratio, and building a qualitative transfer matrix of natural resources accounting for natural resource liabilities arising from changes in the quality of natural resources according to existing national quality classification systems.

Key words: natural resources, asset, balance sheet, liabilities, sustainability