Handbook of Sustainability Assessment
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Handbook of Sustainability Assessment

Edited by Angus Morrison-Saunders, Jenny Pope and Alan Bond

The Handbook of Sustainability Assessment introduces the theory and practice of sustainability assessment and showcases the state-of-the-art research. The aim is to provide inspiration and guidance to students, academics and practitioners alike and to contribute to the enhancement of sustainability assessment practice worldwide. It emphasises how traditional impact assessment practices can be enhanced to contribute to sustainable outcomes. Featuring original contributions from leading sustainability assessment researchers and practitioners, it forms part of the Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series.
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Chapter 10: Ecosystem services and sustainability assessment: theory and practice

Davide Geneletti, Alan Bond, Duncan Russel, John Turnpenny, William Sheate and Andrew Jordan


Ecosystem services are the benefits human populations derive from ecosystems. Understandings of ecosystem services, stemming largely from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), tend to differentiate between different ecosystem service types, namely (MA, 2003): _ Supporting services necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services, like soil formation, nutrient cycling and primary production. _ Regulating services which deliver benefits ranging across climate regulation (e.g. regulation of flood water), disease regulation, water purification, and so on. _ Provisioning services delivering the direct goods people acquire from ecosystems including food, fuel and water. Provisioning services are highly interdependent and are strongly underpinned by supporting and regulating services. _ Cultural services, which are non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems and include things like cultural heritage, sense of place, parks, rivers and lakes, the seashore and the wider countryside. Amongst other things, they provide opportunities for outdoor learning and recreation, with benefits in terms of health and broader spiritual well-being.

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