Our Balancing Act – The real value of ecosystems
A book revealing the economic and ecologic value of the planet’s forests and other ecosystems.
The planet - our host
The planet we live on provides unique set of features that enables us (as human beings) and all other species to live on the planet. The temperatures are acceptable, food and fresh water is available and the atmosphere contains oxygin. The earth's ecosystems provide us these unique features.
Ecosystems are the natural areas on the planet such as forests, oceans, savannes, lakes and deserts. Soils, animal and plant species and the atmosphere are part of the planet's ecosystems and it is especially the combination of all elements that make ecosystems complex and unique. Several ecosystem types are scattered around the world, interrelate to each other and enabling life on earth. The life enabling services (such as food, water, climate and gas regulation) that ecosystems provide us with are ecosystem services and the ability of the planet to keep providing these services is what we call the biocapacity of the planet.
In the recent decades the amount of people on the planet has grown, same as the wealth levels and usage of ecosystems. As a result we are currently using more ecosystems and ecosystem services as the earth can regrow. The figures below, originated from the WWF, Living Planet Report 2008 show the global ecological footprint, meaning the amount of ecosystem services we are using and the health of the planet, expressed as Living planet index.
The Living planet index represents the earth's species, as compared to 1970. It is a measurement of the health of the earth. It shows that ever since 1980 the planet is deteriating.
The deteriation of the earth is caused by the growing ecological footprint of the global population. We are using as much ecosystem services as 1,3 planet could sustainably provide for. As a result of this overuse the biocapacity decreases, species extinct and ecosystems and ecosystem services are becoming scarse.