Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends
Findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group
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.
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
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
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 C. Abbreviations and Acronyms
Appendix D. Glossary