A Social-Ecological Perspective On Ecosystem Services

Authored by: Lasse Loft , Alexandra Lux , Thomas Jahn

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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For an illustration of social-ecological relationships, we will take you on a short journey to a Yemenite island. After sailing through the Indian Ocean, we have arrived at the Socotra Archipelago, an island system 150 km off the horn of Africa. Its long geological isolation and unique climate have combined to create coastal and terrestrial ecosystems characterized by a large number of endemic species, turning the area into a biodiversity hotspot often referred to as ‘the Galápagos islands of the Indian Ocean’. Even though the archipelago was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, pressure is mounting on its ecosystems and the services they provide for local communities. Overgrazing, habitat destruction through unsustainable fishing practices, and the introduction of alien invasive species are among the drivers of biodiversity and ecosystem services loss. In addition, climate change affects the monsoon patterns, leading to a change in species composition, while ocean acidification threatens the existence of local coral reefs. This combination poses a high risk of losing one of the most unique biodiversity hotspots in the world, as well as the basis for the livelihoods of the local communities.

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