Ecosystem Services

Where is the discipline heading?

Authored by: Georgina Mace

Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138025080
eBook ISBN: 9781315775302
Adobe ISBN:


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The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) first stimulated a new and much deeper level of interest in ecosystem services, and this has continued to develop in both research and policy environments. Prior to this there had been a growing understanding of the importance of nature’s goods and services for people, and much work had gone into the Ecosystem Approach as a focus for policy, especially through the Convention on Biological Diversity. The MA, however, placed ecosystems firmly at the core of environmental science-policy discussions, and while it drew on earlier work, it provided a more explicit conceptual framing from which later analytical methods could develop, and it fostered more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches (see also Hauck, 2016). Developments since the publication of the MA in 2005 have been especially rapid (Abson et al., 2014), and the framing for ecosystem services has matured, developed and spread into a range of other related areas, although not always with coherence and clarity. Here I revisit a few of the areas of developing interest and continuing confusion. Many of these are resolvable if addressed in a consistent way; others represent areas of future research need, while yet others draw on much broader societal concerns to do with equity, fairness and sustainability, emphasising the need to place science within a broader political context.

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