Enhancing Ecosystem Services

Healthy ecosystems provide people with a variety of benefits, or ‘services’. They can provide us with food, fuel and medicine; regulate the climate and the flow of rivers; provide places for recreation and relaxation, benefiting the health of our minds and bodies; inspire creativity; and offer space for people to learn about the natural world.

When ecosystems become degraded, however, their ability to deliver these benefits is diminished: degraded forests can no longer provide a sustainable supply of timber and levels of carbon sequestration are reduced; eroded peatlands cannot store as much water and are unable to help prevent downstream floods; and some evidence suggests that loss of biodiversity reduces the positive effect that being in nature has on mental health and wellbeing. Landscapes that are restored by the Endangered Landscapes Programme will provide more of these services, benefitting people locally, regionally and globally.

“The heavy floods in Walachia during the last 10 years are partially due to deforestation in the mountains. Restoring the forests of the Fagaras mountains will benefit people many kilometres downstream – Christoph Promberger, Co-Founder and Director of Foundation Conservation Carpathia

At a time when climate change, coupled with biodiversity loss, provide such a profound, existential planetary emergency, there is an urgent need for the ‘nature-based solutions’ provided by restored landscapes. Each Implementation Project is monitoring how elements of ecosystem services and ‘natural capital’ (the stock of natural assets including soil, air, water and all living things) change as a result of project interventions.

Projects are also working with local people to ensure that the restored landscape supports a sustainable local economy, for example by developing wildlife-based tourism, supporting businesses based on sustainable production and marketing of nature-based products like honey and berries, and developing markets for carbon sequestration or water regulation (examples of so-called ‘Payments for Ecosystem Services’). For more information on this, see our page on supporting nature-based economies.

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