Edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005) was a landmark attempt to assess the state of the world's ecosystems and the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. It found that the structure and functioning of global ecosystems have changed more rapidly between 1950 and 2000 than at any comparable period in human history. During this 50-year period, the world's population doubled while the global economy grew six-fold, leading to rapid increases in demand for ecosystem goods and services. For example, food production more than doubled while wood harvests for pulp and paper production tripled. These increases in demand were met both by increased consumption of available supply and by raising production through the application of new technologies and increasing the areas under production. Biodiversity is crucial for the production of a range of marketed and non-marketed ecosystem goods and services, from consumptive goods such as timber, meat and medicines to hydrological services, soil management and biosphere resilience. A growing body of evidence shows how it supports system productivity and how its loss can have adverse effects on ecosystem functioning (e.g., Naeem et al., 1994; Tilman and Downing, 1994; Zhu et al., 2000; Loreau and Hector, 2001; Cork et al., 2002; Hooper et al., 2005; Landis et al., 2008). Entering into force in 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) declared the conservation of biological diversity 'a common concern of humankind' and an integral part of economic development.
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