Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends

Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends

Findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group


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Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

948 pages pages | 8.5 X 11

Humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than in any comparable period of human history. We have done this to meet the growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. While changes to ecosystems have enhanced the well-being of billions of people, they have also caused a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, and have strained the capacity of ecosystems to continue providing critical services.

Among the findings:

Approximately 60% of the services that support life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably. The harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years.

Only four ecosystem services have been enhanced in the last 50 years: crops, livestock, aquaculture, and the sequestration of carbon.

The capacity of ecosystems to neutralize pollutants, protect us from natural disasters, and control the outbreaks of pests and diseases is declining significantly.

Terrestrial and freshwater systems are reaching the limits of their ability to absorb nitrogen.

Harvesting of fish and other resources from coastal and marine systems is compromising their ability to deliver food in the future.

Richly illustrated with maps and graphs, Current State and Trends presents an assessment of Earth's ability to provide twenty-four distinct services essential to human well-being. These include food, fiber, and other materials; the regulation of the climate and fresh water systems; underlying support systems such as nutrient cycling; and the fulfillment of cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic values. The volume pays particular attention to the current health of key ecosystems, including inland waters, forests, oceans, croplands, and dryland systems, among others. It will be an indispensable reference for scientists, environmentalists, agency professionals, and students.




Reader's Guide

Summary: Ecosystems and Their Services around the Year 2000


PART I. General Concepts and Analytical Approaches

Chapter 1. MA Conceptual Framework

Chapter 2. Analytical Approaches for Assessing Ecosystem Condition and Human Well-being

Chapter 3. Drivers of Ecosystem Change: Summary Chapter

Chapter 4. Biodiversity

Chapter 5. Ecosystem Conditions and Human Well-being

Chapter 6. Vulnerable Peoples and Places


PART II. An Assessment of Ecosystem Services

Chapter 7. Fresh Water

Chapter 8. Food

Chapter 9. Timber, Fuel, and Fiber

Chapter 10. New Products and Industries from Biodiversity

Chapter 11. Biodiversity Regulation of Ecosystem Services

Chapter 12. Nutrient Cycling

Chapter 13. Climate and Air Quality

Chapter 14. Human Health: Ecosystem Regulation of Infectious Diseases

Chapter 15. Waste Processing and Detoxification

Chapter 16. Regulation of Natural Hazards: Floods and Fires

Chapter 17. Cultural and Amenity Services


PART III. An Assessment of Systems from which Ecosystem Services Are Derived

Chapter 18. Marine Fisheries Systems

Chapter 19. Coastal Systems

Chapter 20. Inland Water Systems

Chapter 21. Forest and Woodland Systems

Chapter 22. Dry land Systems

Chapter 23. Island Systems

Chapter 24. Mountain Systems 

Chapter 25. Polar Systems

Chapter 26. Cultivated Systems

Chapter 27. Urban Systems


PART IV. Synthesis

Chapter 28. Synthesis: Condition and Trends in Systems and Services, Trade-offs for Human Well-being, and Implications for the Future


Appendix A. Color Maps and Figures

Appendix B. Authors

Appendix C. Abbreviations and Acronyms 

Appendix D. Glossary



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948 pages pages | 8.5 X 11
publication year: 
2 005