Chapter 12: Ecosystem services
There is an emerging consensus among economists and ecologists that ecosystems should be viewed as economic assets that produce a flow of beneficial goods and services over time, which are commonly referred to as ecosystem services (MA 2005). Such benefits are diverse and wide-ranging, and generally arise through the natural functioning of relatively undisturbed ecosystems. For example, as Daily et al. (2000, p. 395) state, ‘the world’s ecosystems are capital assets. If properly managed, they yield a flow of vital services, including the production of goods (such as seafood and timber), life support processes (such as pollination and water purification), and life-fulfilling conditions (such as beauty and serenity).’ The unique way in which such valuable and myriad ‘services’ arise from ecosystems distinguishes them as a unique form of wealth, or ecological capital (Barbier 2011a).
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