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Ecosystem Services Essay

890 words - 4 pages

According to Mooney and Ehrlich (1997), the idea that human beings depend on natural systems traces back as far as Plato. Plato (c. 400 BC) realised that deforestation could lead to soil erosion and the drying of springs (Daily 2007; Gómez-Baggethun et al., 2009).
The first modern publication that addresses this concept is in the book Man and Nature written by George Perkins Marsh dated 1864. Marsh started to realize that the world’s resources were not infinite and that natural systems are important to water, soil, climate, the disposal of waste and pest control. He suggested that Earth’s natural resources were limited by looking at the changes in Mediterranean soil fertility (Mooney and ...view middle of the document...

The “mainstreaming of ecosystem services in the literature” (Gomez-Baggethun et al., 2009) followed in the 1990s. The controversial article by Costanza et al. (2007) titled “The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital”, was a milestone in the mainstreaming of ecosystem services (Daily 2007; Gomez-Baggethun et al., 2009). Their main approach has been to provide an economic valuation for ecosystem services over the entire planet. They estimated that the annual average value of 17 ecosystem services is US$33 trillion (Costanza et al., 2007). The amount of research projects and literature which addresses ecosystem services is rising exponentially since 2005. The publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA 2005) and the work of Costanza et al. (2007) is probably the main reason for this trend we have seen over the last 10 years (Fisher et al., 2009). One of the key results of the MA was the finding that globally 60% of the ecosystem services investigated are in a state of decline (MA 2005), and this is likely to have a large and negative impact on future human welfare. This situation calls for further and more rigorous research on measuring, modelling and mapping ecosystem services and assessing changes in their delivery with respect to human welfare. To do this the scientific community needs to be able to explain clearly what ecosystem services are, and how they can be classified for use. This requires a clear and consistent definition and an understanding of what characteristics and applications should drive a classification scheme (Fisher et al., 2009).

Works Cited

Bagstad, K.J., Semmens, D.J., Waage, S. & Winthrop, R. 2013. A comparative...

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