Photo: Kristin Westby

Ecosystem services

Human beings depend on nature.

The big and small ecosystems of the world deliver services on which we human beings depend, but that we do not always acknowledge or reflect on. Ecosystems form the basis for the production of food, medicines and many materials. They clean the air and water, store carbon, protect against floods, landslides, storms and erosion, and they provide us with opportunities for both spiritual and physical experiences. And, not least, if utilised and managed in a sustainable manner, they can continue to deliver these vital services for the foreseeable future.

The fact that human beings depend on nature is not a new insight. Nor is it a new phenomenon that we risk exhausting the basis for our own existence. The extent, intensity and pace of our impact on ecosystems, on the other hand, are relatively new. Both the rapid growth in the world’s population and the technologies we have developed enable us to exploit and impact on ecosystems in a way that was not possible before.

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