New Delhi: Concerned over the undervaluation of the country's ecosystem services, the Environment Ministry has initiated a major programme to value its green account in collaboration with an international forum.

The natural capital and ecosystem services in the country will be evaluated with the help of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a forum established by the G8 and Environment Ministers of developing countries, which studies the economics of biodiversity loss.

With only 2.4 per cent of the world's land area, India accounts for 7 to 8 per cent of the plant and animal species in the world. It is one of 18 mega-diverse countries and contains three global biodiversity hotspots.

"As a developing country, our dependence on natural capital is more than higher-income countries. Transforming these resources into other forms of wealth is essential for our development, but it must be in a sustainable manner to ensure continued growth and the survival of our resources," the Ministry said.

"Our resources and ecosystem services are often undervalued, and we should tap their potential while they still exist," it said.

The consultations for the TEEB India Programme for Local and Regional Policy Makers in New Delhi was inaugurated last week by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had said a national economic assessment along TEEB lines was being planned.

(Agencies)