Valuing Nature - Long Description

Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, and drivers of change

Global Biodiversity Outlook 2. CBD Secretariat 2006, Fig. 1.1

Source Document: Valuing Nature

The diagram consists of six boxes arranged in a square with arrows leading from one to the next representing a continuous cycle of influence. In short, biodiversity is shown as essential to healthy functioning ecosystems, which produce benefits that are called ecosystem goods and services, and which are necessary to support human life and well-being. However, biodiversity and ecosystem functions are both directly and indirectly impacted by several human-caused activities that are potentially destructive, and therefore potentially reducing services that humans rely upon. This highlights the importance of managing drivers of change so as to reduce or mitigate their detrimental impacts on nature, and by extension, negative impacts on human lives and livelihoods.  

In full detail, at the lower left the most prominent box is labelled Biodiversity, and includes a list of terms describing it: Number, Relative abundance, Composition, Interactions. These refer to all life at the genetic, species, and ecosystems levels and are what comprise biodiversity. 

An arrow leads down from the Biodiversity box to a box labelled Ecosystem Functions, indicating that healthy functioning of ecosystems are dependent on biodiversity.

Both of these boxes also have arrows leading to the right to a larger box labelled Ecosystem Goods and Services. This large box lists the four categories of services that are produced by healthy functioning ecosystems, as identified by the United Nations series of reports titled the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

1. Goods (also known as Provisioning Services) include food, fiber, genetic resources, biochemicals and fresh water;

2. Cultural Services include spiritual and religious values, knowledge systems, education and inspiration, recreation and aesthetic values;

3. Regulating Services: resistance to invasive species, herbivory, pollination, seed dispersal, climate regulation, pest regulation, natural hazard protection, erosion regulation, and water purification; and,

4. Supporting Services (which underlie all the others): primary production, provision of habitat, nutrient cycling, soil formation and retention, production of atmospheric oxygen, and water cycling.

The ecosystem services box has an arrow point up to a box labelled Human Well-being, which consists of: basic material for a good life, health, security good social relations, freedom of choice and action. The relationship implied is that ecosystem services are what make human life and well-being possible. 

Following an arrow to the left from Human Well-being, is a box labeled Indirect Drivers of Change, which are demographic, economic, sociopolitical, science and technology, and cultural and religious. This box has an arrow pointing back to the human well-being box, indicating a feedback whereby the two influence each other. Another arrow from the indirect drivers box points down to Direct Drivers of Change, which also has a feedback relationship with human well-being, and includes climate change, nutrient loading, land use change, species introduction, and overexploitation. 

Direct drivers are shown by the arrows to impact on biodiversity and by extension, on ecosystem functions. 

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