Critically Review the Contention that the Science of Ecosystem Service Has Transformed the Way which we Value Nature and Conserve It.
The way we value and conserve nature has dramatically changed over the course of time and the concept of preserving the natural environment which surrounds us is and old one while also still a relatively new one. During the time of pre-industrial evolution the benefits that were received by humans from natural ecosystems were often regarded as sacred and were entrenched into the way society lived (Costanza, 1987). After the industrial revolution much of western society adopted the ideology that nature was just something to be enjoyed if you could afford ...view middle of the document...
(Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). Understanding and recognising ecosystem services and the relationship they define between humans and the rest of nature has helped, in recent times, to change the way we value and therefore conserve it. This is because with a comprehensive grasp of the science of ecosystem service we can value our natural resources as assets in our overall wealth. Sustaining this wealth and then developing it requires the management of all our assets as a society which include: the economy, nature and the individual person. This means that the impact of ecosystem services can be felt in a wide variety of fields. The Many projects that run globally are driving towards a more sophisticated understanding, valuation, modelling and management of ecosystem services. This drive is the force behind the changes in the way we value nature and ultimately conserve it (Costanza, 2011).
In order to understand the value an ecosystem service provides we must first discuss its natural capital. Capital is often thought as the supply of information and materials that, at any moment, are in existence. Generally capital stocks join with services provided by other capital stocks to produce a flow of services that can be utilised for a range of implementations by humans. They are present most obviously in the form of physical things such as wood, food and ecosystems (Costanza and Daly, 1992). However as with many things in the science of ecosystem services they are able to take a more intangible form such as the memory stored in a computer or human brains, even information which is stored in an ecosystem itself. The flows of energy within an ecosystem service are derived from capital stocks and these join with manufactured human capital services which in turn produce human welfare. Disruption and alteration of the levels of natural capital within an ecosystem service therefore impact human welfare. Making large changes at small levels, for instance changing the make-up of a forest can impact all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that it encompasses which then leads to a knock on effect on the cost and benefits to humans. Or on the other side of the scale changing a large natural capital in a small way such as global gaseous consumption could lead to catastrophic climate changes. Because these natural capital stocks can be altered they lead us to shape a value for nature, because it often contains something we can easily quantify in their form. Due to the fact natural capitals are found within ecosystem services it can be suggested that the worlds global economy is a smaller market within the larger network of resources that exists within ecosystem services, therefore developing a deeper understanding of the interwoven relationship between people, business and resource we can lead the way towards a sustainable future (Cosman et al, 2011).
Figure 1: Image highlighting the varying types of value that can be used to define an ecosystem. ...