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Earth matters: People depend on the many goods and services that nature provides

Infographic | 05-07-2017

The biosphere is valuable to us in many ways, some of which are more easily visible than others. Human beings are an integral part of it and fundamentally depend on the Earth’s capacity to provide services for human development and well-being from local community levels to the global level of the biosphere.

The benefits that nature provides are called Ecosystem Services, and they can be divided into several categories. The most visible ones are the provisioning services which deliver the resources we use on a daily basis, such as food and clean water. The Earth also provides us with abiotic resources, such as (renewable) energy and minerals in the soil.

Regulating services, which aid in the delivery of provisioning services, include pollination, production processes taking place in healthy soils, and also less visible processes, such as carbon sequestration. Nature also provides recreational space and carries parts of our cultural history and identity. However, while the consciousness about our dependency on the Earth and its interlinked ecosystem services is growing, we are still running the risk of dealing with the rapidly rising demand for some resources in ways that may be detrimental to others.

Sustainable management of the natural resource base is required to support the future delivery of services to people all over the world.

Source data

Haines-Young R and Potschin M. (2011). Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES): 2011 Update. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.

World Bank (2011). The changing wealth of nations : measuring sustainable development in the new millennium. The international bank for reconstruction and development Washington.

WAVES (2016) Wealth Accounting and WAVES (website)

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