New IUCN report – Assessing Ecosystem Services

IUCN have produced a new report which enables protected area management teams to assess how natural areas can benefit people. 20 international experts compared nine tools to assess ecosystem services. This can be used to inform management and decision-making processes, and therefore better protect nature.

Please also read: IUCN Wilderness Management Guidelines

What is an Ecosystem Service?

Ecosystem services are the benefits that nature provides to people. There are four types of services; supporting (e.g. nutrient recycling), provisioning (e.g. food), regulating (e.g. carbon sequestration), and cultural (e.g. recreation).

It is important to assess ecosystem services, because having a better understanding can lead to;

  • better support from public and policy to protect the ecosystem;
  • better informed management decisions;
  • improved human well-being;
  • funding/investment opportunities;
  • knowledge generation;
  • equal benefit sharing and resource use;
  • better support planning in the future (e.g. in response to climate overheating).

Aside from the above, understanding ecosystem services can lead to more effective conservation strategies and protection of plants, animals and ecosystems!

The IUCN Report

The report compares nine tools which can assess ecosystem services. These are all commonly used, free of cost, and applicable to many situations. This saves time and effort, as deciding which tool to use can be overwhelming and challenging. Each tool has an explanation and case study, and are easy to compare. IUCN has created a report which makes it easy to select a tool based on your goals, information you need, and time and resources available.

The report also includes ‘decision trees’, which can guide you through selecting a tool.

Wilderness and Ecosystem Services

At the European Wilderness Society we work hard to protect Wilderness. Wilderness is ‘self-willed land’, which means we allow nature to evolve and develop by itself, and be governed by natural dynamic processes. This non-intervention approach to nature conservation allows for the protection of ecosystem services. Therefore we support protected area management in the assessment of ecosystem services, to better protect Wilderness.

For the full report, please see below:

 

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