The Natural Capital Index (NCI) was developed by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency as a contribution to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Development started in 1996. NCI was a biodiversity indicator representing the relative abundance of original species, compared to a postulated baseline, set in pre-industrial times. NCI was originally designed to be based on monitoring data.
For future outlooks, a pressure-based NCI was developed, calculating the remaining species abundance based on projections of environmental drivers (land use and climate change). The IMAGE model became an important supplier of input data on drivers.
NCI has been proposed as candidate indicator in various CBD documents on biodiversity indicators. In the Biodiversity Indicators for National Use project (BINU), financed by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), NCI has been tested in various countries.
NCI was later slightly adjusted to the requirements of modeling in global assessments and renamed Mean Species Abundance (MSA). MSA is the biodiversity indicator modelled by GLOBIO3.
Between 1997 and 2002 the NCI-IMAGE framework has been applied in various assessments from global to regional and national scale: