November 20, 2009

A list of ecosystem services

I copy and paste the whole contents of a box from the latest issue of Nature:

Published online 18 November 2009 | Nature 462, 270-271 (2009) | doi:10.1038/462270a

Box: Ready to serve

From the article:
Biodiversity: Putting a price on nature [a profile of Gretchen Daily]

A selection of nature's 'services':

Provisioning: timber, fish, wild game, fruit and fungus, even moss and foliage for floral arrangements.
Regulating: water filtration and capture, flood protection, carbon sequestration.
Cultural: recreation, education, aesthetic and spiritual contemplation.

I don't know what spiritual contemplation is. Apart from this, it seems to me that we can get all of these services by artificial means, including intensely managed ecosystems. Will these means be more expensive than "nature"?


  1. Can we really get all these things by artificial means? I'd argue that we can't recreate these services because they are so delicately interwoven and complex, that if we tried to emulate them with technology we would fail, the way that the Green Revolution failed to foresee the problem of rising use of pesticides and herbicides and synthetic fertilizer and all of the problems that those "technologies" create. I'm interested to know how we could ever replace these natural services w/o messing up the planet

  2. Throughout our history we have developed at least partial substitutes for those services. So I don't see why we can't keep on doing so in the future.