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Ecological yield
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Ecological yield

Ecological yield is the harvestable growth of an ecosystem. It is most commonly measured in forestry - in fact sustainable forestry is defined as that which does not harvest more wood in a year than has grown in that year, within a given patch of forest.

However, the concept is also applicable to water, and soil, and any other aspect of an ecosystem which can be both harvested and renewed - the so-called renewable resources. The carrying capacity of an ecosystem is reduced over time if more than the amount which is "renewed" (refreshed or regrown or rebuilt) is consummed.

Nature's services analysis calculates the global yield of the Earth's biosphere to humans as a whole. This is said to be greater in size than the entire human economy. However, it is more than just yield, but also the natural processes that increase biodiversity and conserve habitat which result in the total value of these services. "Yield" of ecological commodities like wood or water, useful to humans, is only a part of it.

Very often an ecological yield in one place offsets an ecological load in another. Greenhouse gas released in one place, for instance, is fairly evenly distributed in the atmosphere, and so greenhouse gas control can be achieved by creating a carbon sink literally anywhere else.

Ecocide is thought by some green economists to be accelerated by debt instruments which demand a yield (economics) greater than the ecological capacity to renew. This is a major question in monetary reform.

See also: full cost accounting, comprehensive outcome, sustainability, uneconomic growth