Term Definition
Abiotic ServicesAbiotic flows are contributions to benefits from the environment that are not underpinned by, or reliant on, ecological characteristics and processes.

United Nations et al. (2021) System of Environmental Economic Accounting  -  Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) 

Area of influenceThe area in which an entity location may potentially directly, indirectly and cumulatively cause impacts on biodiversity

Multilateral Development Finance Institution Working Group and the Cross Sector Biodiversity Initiative (2015)

Assessment metricsMetrics used within an integrated internal assessment process for nature-related risk and opportunity management, such as the LEAP approach. These would not be required for disclosure.


AtmosphereAtmosphere includes the gaseous medium and its suspended particulate liquids and solids above the land realm, extending to the altitudinal limits of life.
BaselineStarting point or benchmark against which changes in the state of nature attributed to your business activities can be compared.

Natural Capital Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Baseline for science-based targetsStarting point or benchmark against which changes in the state of nature attributed to your business activities can be compared.
BiodiversityThe variability among living organisms from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) Article 2

BiomeGlobal-scale zones, generally defined by the type of plant life that they support in response to average rainfall and temperature patterns e.g., tundra, coral reefs or savannas.

IPBES (2019) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

CommunityA community of plants and animals characterised by a typical assemblage of species and their abundances.

IPCC (2007). Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 996 pp. 

Contagion (type of systemic risk)Originates in the financial or real economy as a risk that financial difficulties at one or more financial institution spill over to the financial system as a whole.
Critical habitatAny area of the planet with high biodiversity conservation significance, based on the existence of habitat of significant importance to critically endangered or endangered species, restricted range or endemic species, globally significant concentrations of migratory and/or congregatory species, highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems and key evolutionary processes.

IFC (2012) Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources. International Finance Corporation, Washington DC, U.S.A 

Cumulative impactA change in the state of nature (direct or indirect) that occurs due to the interaction of activities of different actors operating in a landscape.

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; Endangered Wildlife Trust (2020) The Biological Diversity Protocol; Capitals Coalition and Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2020) Integrated biodiversity into natural capital assessments; Business and Biodiversity Offset Programme (2012) Glossary

DependenciesAspects of ecosystem services that an organisation or other actor relies on to function. Dependencies include ecosystems' ability to regulate water flow, water quality, and hazards like fires and floods; provide a suitable habitat for pollinators (who in turn provide a service directly to economies), and sequester carbon (in terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms).

SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished]

Dependency pathwayA dependency pathway shows how a particular business activity depends upon specific features of natural capital. It identifies how observed or potential changes in natural capital affect the costs and/or benefits of doing business.

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Direct impactsA change in the state of nature caused by a business activity with a direct causal link.

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; Endangered Wildlife Trust (2020) The Biological Diversity Protocol; Capitals Coalition and Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2020) Integrating biodiversity into natural capital assessments

Disclosure metricsMetrics required to be disclosed to market participants in line with the TNFD's disclosure recommendations.


Drivers of nature changeAll external factors that affect nature, anthropogenic assets, nature's contributions to people and good quality of life. They include institutions and governance systems and other indirect drivers, and direct drivers (both natural and anthropogenic).

Source: IPBES

EcosystemA dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and the non-living environment, interacting as a functional unit.

Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) Article 2; IPBES (2019) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem AssetsA form of environmental assets that relate to diverse ecosystems. These are contiguous spaces of a specific ecosystem type characterised by a distinct set of biotic and abiotic components and their interactions.

UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting

Ecosystem conditionThe quality of an ecosystem measured by its abiotic and biotic characteristics. Condition is assessed by an ecosystem's composition, structure and function which, in turn, underpins the ecological integrity of the ecosystem, and supports its capacity to supply ecosystem services on an ongoing basis.

Adapted from: UN SEEA (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting: Final Draft

Ecosystem functionThe flow of energy and materials through the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem. This includes many processes such as biomass production, trophic transfer through plants and animals, nutrient cycling, water dynamics and heat transfer.

IPBES (2019) The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Ecosystem healthUsed to describe the condition of an ecosystem, by analogy with human health. Note that there is no universally accepted benchmark for a healthy ecosystem. Rather, the apparent health status of an ecosystem can vary, depending upon which metrics are employed to assess it and which societal aspirations are driving the assessment.

IPBES (2019) 

Ecosystem ServicesThe contributions of ecosystems to the benefits that are used in economic and other human activity.

UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting

Endangered speciesSpecies considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Adapted from IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iv + 32pp. 

Environmental AssetsThe naturally occurring living and non-living components of the Earth, together constituting the biophysical environment, which may provide benefits to humanity.

UN (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting

FreshwaterAll permanent and temporary freshwater bodies as well as saline water bodies that are not directly connected to the oceans.
GoalA high-level statement of ambition, including a timeframe.
HabitatThe area, characterised by its abiotic and biotic properties, that is habitable by a particular species.

Keith, D et al (2020) IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology 2.0: Descriptive profiles for biomes and ecosystem functional groups

Impact driversA measurable quantity of a natural resource that is used as a natural input to production (e.g. the volume of sand and gravel used in construction) or a measurable non-product output of a business activity (e.g., a kilogram of NOx emissions released into the atmosphere by a manufacturing facility).

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Impact pathwayAn impact pathway describes how, as a result of a specific business activity, a particular impact driver results in changes in natural capital, and how these changes in natural capital affect different stakeholders.

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

ImpactsChanges in the state of nature, which may result in changes to the capacity of nature to provide social and economic functions. Impacts can be positive or negative. They can be the result of an organisation's or another party's actions and can be direct, indirect or cumulative.

SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished], CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures.

Impacts on natureA change in the state of nature, which may result in changes to the capacity of nature to provide value to business and society and/or instrumental, relational and intrinsic value.
Indicator (for measuring performance against goals or targets)A specific metric used to track performance or progress (positive or negative change) against a goal or target.
Indirect impactA change in the state of nature caused by a business activity with an indirect causal link (e.g., a change indirectly caused by climate change, to which an organisation's greenhouse gas emissions contributed).

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; Endangered Wildlife Trust (2020) The Biological Diversity Protocol; ; Capitals Coalition and Cambridge Conservation Initiative (2020) Integrated biodiversity into natural capital assessments

Instrumental valuesMeans to a desired end often associated with the notion of 'ecosystem services'.
Intrinsic valuesThe values of nature expressed independently of any reference to people as valuers and include entities such as habitats or species that are worth protecting as ends in and of themselves.
Issue areas (for SBT setting)The environmental issues which SBTs will address include the following:
  • Ecosystem use and use change,
  • Resource (over) exploitation,
  • Climate change,
  • Pollution, and
  • Direct impacts on biodiversity (invasive species, accidental mortality, biological alterations, short term disturbances).
Key biodiversity areaA site contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity.

IUCN (2016) A global standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas : version 1.0

LandLand includes all dry land, its vegetation cover, nearby atmosphere and substrate (soils, rocks) to the rooting depth of plants, and associated animals and microbes.
Measurement (science-based targets)The process of collecting data for baseline setting, monitoring and reporting of science-based targets.
Monitoring (science-based targets)Tracking progress towards targets.
Natural CapitalThe stock of renewable and non-renewable natural resources (e.g., plants, animals, air, water, soils, minerals) that combine to yield a flow of benefits to people.

Capitals Coalition (2016) Natural Capital Protocol

Natural-climate solutionsA subset of nature-based solutions, natural-climate solutions include conservation, restoration, and improved land and sea management that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience, and assist climate adaptation across global forests, wetlands, mangroves, grasslands, and agricultural lands and other habitats.

Girardin, C et al (2021) Nature based solutions can help cool the planet — if we act now; Griscom, B et al (2017) Natural climate solutions

NatureThe natural world, with an emphasis on the diversity of living organisms (including people) and their interactions among themselves and with their environment.

Díaz, S et al (2015) The IPBES Conceptual Framework – connecting nature and people

Nature lossThe loss and/or decline of the state of nature. This includes, but is not limited to, the reduction of any aspect of biological diversity e.g., diversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels in a particular area through death (including extinction), destruction or manual removal.

IPBES (2019) Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Nature-based solutionsActions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

IUCN (2020) The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions

Nature-positiveA high-level goal and concept describing a future state of nature (e.g., biodiversity, ecosystem services and natural capital) which is greater than the current state. The TNFD is engaging with key partners and stakeholders, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat, the coalition of organisations behind the Global Goal for Nature, the IUCN and others on the evolving debate about defining the term 'nature positive'. Like others, the TNFD would welcome inclusion and definition of the term 'nature positive' in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) being negotiated at COP-15 in December 2022.

SBTN (2022) Working Definitions [unpublished]

Nature-related opportunitiesNature-related opportunities are generated through impacts and dependencies on nature, and can occur:
  • When organisations avoid, reduce, mitigate or manage nature-related risks, for example, connected to the loss of nature and ecosystem services that the organisation and society depend on;
  • Through the strategic transformation of business models, products, services, markets and investments that actively work to reverse the loss of nature, including by restoration, regeneration of nature and implementation of nature-based solutions.

TNFD (2021) Nature in Scope Adapted from: WWF (2022) A Biodiversity Guide for Business SBTN (2020) Adapted from: WWF (2022) A Biodiversity Guide for Business

Nature-related physical risksAll global economic enterprise depends on the functioning of earth systems, such as a stable climate and ecosystem services, such as the provision of biomass (raw materials). Nature-related physical risks are a direct result of an organisation's dependence on nature. Physical risks arise when natural systems are compromised, due to the impact of climatic events (e.g. extremes of weather such as a drought), geologic events (e.g. seismic events such as an earthquake) events or changes in ecosystem equilibria, such as soil quality or marine ecology, which affect the ecosystem services organisations depend on. These can be acute, chronic, or both. Nature-related physical risks arise as a result of changes in the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) conditions that support healthy, functioning ecosystems. Physical risks are usually location-specific. Nature-related physical risks are often associated with climate-related physical risks.

CISL (2021) Handbook for nature-related financial risks: key concepts and a framework for identification; NGFS (2021) Biodiversity and financial stability: building the case for action

Nature-related risksPotential threats posed to an organisation linked to their and wider society's dependencies on nature and nature impacts. These can derive from physical, transition and systemic risks.

CDSB (2021) Framework application guidance for biodiversity-related disclosures; TCFD (2017) Final Report: Recommendations on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures

Nature-related systemic risksSystemic risks are risks arising from the breakdown of the entire system, rather than the failure of individual parts. Nature-related systemic risks are characterized by modest tipping points combining indirectly to produce large failures and cascading interactions of physical and transition risks, one loss triggers a chain of others and stops systems from recovering their equilibrium after a shock.

Goldin, I & Mariathasan, M (2014) The Butterfly Defect: how globalisation creates systemic risks and what to do about it; IRGC (2018) IRGC Guidelines for the Governance of Systemic Risks; Kaufmann, G & Scott, K (2003) What Is Systemic Risk, and Do Bank Regulators Retard or Contribute to It?

Nature-related transition risksNature-related transition risks are risks that result from a misalignment between an organisation's or investor's strategy and management and the changing regulatory, policy or societal landscape in which it operates. Developments aimed at halting or reversing damage to nature, such as government measures, technological breakthroughs, market changes, litigation and changing consumer preferences can all create or change transition risks.

NGFS (2021) Biodiversity and financial stability: building the case for action

Nature’s contribution to peopleAll the contributions, both positive and negative, to people's quality of life.
OceanAll connected saline ocean waters characterised by waves, tides and currents.
Priority locationsPriority locations are defined as the locations of ecosystems deemed to be low integrity and/or high importance and water-stressed areas with which the organisation's assets and operations interact.
Protected areaA clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

IUCN (2008): https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/9243). 

RealmMajor components of the living, natural world that differ fundamentally in ecosystem organisation and function: terrestrial (land), freshwater, marine (ocean), subterranean, atmospheric. The TNFD's framework is based on four realms - Land, Freshwater, Ocean and Atmosphere. The subterranean realm is included within the land, freshwater and ocean realms.
Reference conditionThe condition against which past, present and future ecosystem conditions are compared to in order to measure relative change over time.

United Nations et al. (2021) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting— Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA). White cover publication, pre-edited text subject to official editing. Available at: https://seea.un.org/ecosystem-accounting.

ResilienceThe level of disturbance that an ecosystem or society can undergo without crossing a threshold that creates different structures or outputs. Resilience depends on factors such as ecological dynamics and the organisational and institutional capacity to understand, manage and respond to these dynamics.

IPBES (2019) 

Rights-holdersUnder the Universal Declaration of Human rights, all human beings are 'rights-holders.' However, not all individuals will have their human rights put at risk or impacted by a project or its associated activities. It is important to identify human rights risks related to project activities among stakeholders and recognise such stakeholders as 'rights-holders' in the context of engagement activities.
ScenariosScenarios explore a broader set of uncertainties, at least some of which represent discontinuities with existing planning models. Scenarios are also typically designed in part to identify risks that could emerge over the course of a longer time frame (e.g. multiple years), which typically take shape at the intersection of several seemingly unconnected uncertainties.
Science-based targets for nature (or SBT’s)Measurable, actionable and time-bound objectives based, on the best available science, that allow actors to align with Earth's limits and societal sustainability goals.
Sensitivity analysesAssess how a planning model's outputs change when important inputs vary within expected ranges (e.g. +10%, -10%).  
SpeciesAn interbreeding group of organisms that is reproductively isolated from all other organisms.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis

Species compositionThe array of species in a specific sample, community, or area.

IPBES (2019) The global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Species richnessThe number of species within a given sample, community or area.

Hassan R, Scholes R, Ash N (eds) (2005) Millenium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing, Volume 1, Current State and Trends. Island Press, Washington 

Stakeholder engagementStakeholder engagement involves interactive processes of engagement with relevant stakeholders, through, for example, meetings, hearings or consultation proceedings. Effective stakeholder engagement is characterised by a two-way communication and depends on the good faith of the participants on both sides.
StakeholdersStakeholders are persons or groups who are directly or indirectly affected by a project, as well as those who may have interests in a project and/or the ability to influence its outcome, either positively or negatively.
State of natureThe condition and extent of ecosystem assets, including positive or negative changes.

TNFD, adapted from UN SEEA. 2021. System of Environmental-Economic Accounting - Ecosystem Accounting: Final Draft

Stress testsStress tests represent difficult 'edge cases' that are developed by putting extreme values of a relevant variable or small number of variables into existing planning models. The objective of stress testing is to assess how the results of those models change in response.
Stressed watershedsWatersheds, where the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period, or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress freshwater resources to deteriorate in quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc.) and quality (eutrophication, organic matter pollution, saline intrusion, etc.).

Adapted from EEA. 1999. Environment in the European Union at the turn of the century. Page 155. Environmental assessment report No 2.

TargetSpecific quantitative and time-bound objective, preferably with a defined means of measurement.
Target boundary (science-based targets)The corporate scope of the target, specific to each issue area. The target boundary may be defined in terms of the value chain aspect covered, as well as the specific locations, products, brands, etc. that will be in focus in a given time period.
Threatened ecosystemEcosystem assessed as facing a high risk of collapse in the medium-term.

IUCN 2017: https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/45794).

Threatened speciesSpecies assessed as facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term.

IUCN 2012: https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/10315).

Validation (science-based targets)An independent process involving expert review to ensure target meets required criteria and methods of science-based targets.
Verification (science-based targets)An independent third-party confirmation of either or both: a) baseline values of a target indicator (e.g. a company's water or GHG inventory) and b) progress made toward achieving the target.