Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends: Findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group

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Rashid M. Hassan, Robert Scholes, Neville Ash
Island Press, Dec 14, 2005 - Reference - 917 pages
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Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than in any comparable period of human history. We have done this to meet the growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. While changes to ecosystems have enhanced the well-being of billions of people, they have also caused a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, and have strained the capacity of ecosystems to continue providing critical services. Among the findings: Approximately 60% of the services that support life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably. The harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. Only four ecosystem services have been enhanced in the last 50 years: crops, livestock, aquaculture, and the sequestration of carbon. The capacity of ecosystems to neutralize pollutants, protect us from natural disasters, and control the outbreaks of pests and diseases is declining significantly. Terrestrial and freshwater systems are reaching the limits of their ability to absorb nitrogen. Harvesting of fish and other resources from coastal and marine systems is compromising their ability to deliver food in the future. Richly illustrated with maps and graphs, Current State and Trends presents an assessment of Earth's ability to provide twenty-four distinct services essential to human well-being. These include food, fiber, and other materials; the regulation of the climate and fresh water systems; underlying support systems such as nutrient cycling; and the fulfillment of cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic values. The volume pays particular attention to the current health of key ecosystems, including inland waters, forests, oceans, croplands, and dryland systems, among others. It will be an indispensable reference for scientists, environmentalists, agency professionals, and students.
  

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Contents

MA Conceptual Framework
25
Analytical Approaches for Assessing Ecosystem Condition and Human Wellbeing
37
Drivers of Ecosystem Change Summary Chapter
73
Biodiversity
77
Ecosystem Conditions and Human Wellbeing
123
Vulnerable Peoples and Places
143
Fresh Water
165
Food
209
Marine Fisheries Systems
477
Coastal Systems
513
Inland Water Systems
551
Forest and Woodland Systems
585
Dryland Systems
623
Island Systems
663
Mountain Systems
681
Polar Systems
717

Timber Fuel and Fiber
243
New Products and Industries from Biodiversity
271
Biodiversity Regulation of Ecosystem Services
297
Nutrient Cycling
331
Climate and Air Quality
355
Human Health Ecosystem Regulation of Infectious Diseases
391
Waste Processing and Detoxification
417
Regulation of Natural Hazards Floods and Fires
441
Cultural and Amenity Services
455
Cultivated Systems
745
Urban Systems
795
Synthesis Condition and Trends in Systems and Services Tradeoffs for Human Wellbeing and Implications for the Future
827
Color Maps and Figures
839
Authors
883
Abbreviations and Acronyms
889
Glossary
893
Index
901
Copyright

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Page vii - An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities and the nonliving environment interacting as a functional unit. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems. Ecosystems provide a variety of benefits to people, including provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services. Provisioning services are the products people obtain from ecosystems, such as food, fuel, fiber, fresh water, and genetic resources.

About the author (2005)

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s work is overseen by a 45-member Board of Directors, co-chaired by Robert Watson, Chief Scientist and Senior Advisor for the Environment of the Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network of the World Bank, and A.H. Zakri, director of the United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies. The Assessment Panel, which oversees the technical work of the MA, includes 13 of the world’s leading social and natural scientists. It is co-chaired by Angela Cropper of the Cropper Foundation and Harold Mooney of Stanford University. Walter Reid is the director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

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