Ecosystem services

WHY IT MATTERS

While the value of nature to people has been recognised since time immemorial, there has been no other moment in human history where the true value of natural capital is more pronounced. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the alarming rate of the destruction of our planet’s resources, the concept of ecosystem services is gaining growing importance and traction to describe the various benefits that come from our Earth. An ecosystem service is any positive benefit that nature provides to people. The benefits can be direct or indirect.

Policymakers often overlook the connection between healthy ecosystems and the well-being of people. As a result, long-term goals may be jeopardized for short-term gain. In order to realize economic benefits, important ecosystem services may be degraded, which can have unintended consequences for the people who depend on the degraded services. For example, building a dam may increase power supply to cities, but it will also reduce the river’s capacity to provide shoreline protection to coastal communities. Costs and benefits of these tradeoffs are often unequally spread, and externalities unaccounted for, which results in high environmental and social losses.

Resilient Landscapes offers its science and expertise to governments, businesses and rural communities on how to take ecosystem services into account in holistic and resilient economic and social strategies. By using an ecosystem services framework, ecosystem service mapping, economic valuation, scenario planning, and by presenting a portfolio of innovative and detailed policy options and investable business cases, it seeks to arm decisionmakers with the best information to achieve lasting positive change for their constituencies.

More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a tragic demonstration of the interconnectedness of the global community. A systems approach recognizes that interdependent problems cannot be dealt with separately, because of the complex nature of the innumerable connections. Solutions must work at multiple spatial and temporal scales in order to deliver on our global needs. Resilient Landscapes’ expertise spans the social and biophysical sciences and is up to the gigantic challenge of implementing such a systems approach.

We need to think of biodiversity in terms of how species interact together, to capture water, light, nutrients, and how in doing this they provide services to society.

Dr. Harold Mooney
Stanford biology professor, explorer, IPBES

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