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Nature, landscapes and biodiversity

Why is biodiversity important?

Question and Answer | 18-06-2015

The natural environment provides the basic conditions without which humans could not survive. Ecosystem services are the benefits provided by ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food, water, timber, fiber, and genetic resources; regulating services such as the regulation of climate, floods, disease, and water quality as well as waste treatment; cultural services such as recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, and spiritual fulfillment; and supporting services such as soil formation, pollination, and nutrient cycling.

The degradation of ecosystem services is already a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by the international community in September 2000 and the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. The consumption of ecosystem services, which is unsustainable in many cases, will continue to grow as a consequence of a likely three- to sixfold increase in global GDP by 2050 even while global population growth is expected to slow and level off in mid-century. Most of the important direct drivers of ecosystem change are unlikely to diminish in the first half of the century. Actually most drivers—such as climate change, excessive nutrient loading, fragmentation, habitat loss and exploitation —will probably become more severe.

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