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May 2, 2019

IPBES Ecosystem Services | For nature’s sake


Should we only look at plants for their medicinal benefits? Or put a price on the migration of butterflies?

Many say not. We should be driven to protect wildlife because it exists and is increasingly threatened by human actions.

But realistically, the new IPBES report highlights that appreciating and understanding the role of ecosystem services is how many people will be inspired to take environmental action.

It’s important to not only value nature for the sake of nature, but also to appreciate the economic, social and cultural benefits that the natural world provides.

“This is quite controversial among the environmentalists, the extent to which we talk about the economic contribution of intact natural systems, compared with their beauty and their intrinsic worth.

For me, it’s not a choice. It’s both. These systems are incredibly important from the point of view they should be kept because they’re beautiful and interesting and unique, but they’re also underpinning global food, water and energy security.”

– Tony Juniper, speaking in conversation with Cool Earth Director Matthew Owen.

From the pollination of our food crops to essential natural medicines and renewable energy sources, there are many services that the natural world provides society.

Energy

Energy

According to the IPBES report, more than two billion people rely on fuelwood for energy. These rudimentary cooking methods are responsible for huge deforestation in the Congo alone. That’s why in Cool Earth’s Lubutu partnership, we’ve introduced energy efficient stoves that have seen fuelwood consumption halved.

Health

Health

Four billion people around the world rely on natural medicines. Many medicines we use every day originated from plants found in rainforests. The cost of air pollution in England alone could cost as much as £5.3 billion by 20351. Trees are highly effective at trapping soot, particulates and other pollutants and much be protected if we are to improve air quality.

Carbon

Carbon

From the oceans to peatlands and forest soils, there are billions of tonnes of carbon sequestered and stored in natural ecosystems. One of the greatest carbon capture technology that exists are trees, and we need to keep them protected if we are to mitigate future climate breakdown and escalating atmospheric CO2 levels.

Economy

Economy

We cannot afford to lose nature any further. Nature underpins all economies with the ‘free’ services it provides in the form of clean water, air and animal pollination required for more than 75% of global food crops. In the Americas, this totals more than $24 trillion a year. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion2.

Balance

Balance

Nature is in crisis. As it is, we’re not doing enough, and we’re going to lose the essential ecosystem services that we all rely on every day. That’s because ‘tipping points’ continue to worry climate scientists. If we pass certain thresholds, there will be runaway loss of places like rainforest, a feedback loop of destruction that we can do little to control.

That’s why the IPBES report needs to be an immediate and wake up call to the “social and ecological emergency” the world is now facing. For the sake of our day-to-day lives, the future of society and protecting species worldwide, we must take action to protect ecosystems around the world.

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