The newly updated study of Robert Constanza et al. („Changes in the global value of ecosystem services“, published in Global Environmental Change, May 2014) reveals highly interesting numbers of our natures benefits.
Within the study the authors cumulate the benefit of ecosystem services worldwide. Adding up the worth of carbon storage, crop polination, flood mitigation and several other services, nature provides $145 trillion! per year. Keeping this increadible high number in mind, the comparision to the GDP of all nations together with its $97 trillion (World Bank, 2012) underlines even more the importance of securing nature. During the last 15 years the loss of benefit of ecosystem services were calculated, according to the study, to up to $ 20.2 trillion per year.
Global estimates expressed in monetary accounting units, such as this, are useful to highlight the magnitude of eco-services, but have no specific decision-making context. However, the underlying data and models can be applied at multiple scales to assess changes resulting from various scenarios and policies. We emphasize that valuation of eco-services (in whatever units) is not the same as commodification or privatization.
Highlights of the study:
- Global loss of ecosystem services due to land use change is $US 4.3–20.2 trillion/yr.
- Ecoservices contribute more than twice as much to human well-being as global GDP.
- Estimates in monetary units are useful to show the relative magnitude of ecoservices.
- Valuation of ecosystem services is not the same as commodification or privatization.
- Ecosystem services are best considered public goods requiring new institutions.
Authors of the study:
“Changes in the global value of ecosystem services”
Robert Costanza, Rudolf de Groot, Paul Sutton, Sander van der Ploeg, Sharolyn J. Anderson, Ida Kubiszewski, Stephen Farber, R. Kerry Turner