• 14 September 2015

Ecosystem Services: A paradigm-shifting new perspective

Oxford researchers have developed a novel re-definition of Ecosystem Services – a concept now ubiquitous in environmental research and practice.

As they argue in a new paper, published today in Global Environmental Change, the original conceptualisation, of a one-way flow of benefits from ecosystems to humans, is over-simplistic and largely inaccurate.

Ecosystem Services as a concept doesn’t account for the multiple and varied ways in which humans maintain and enhance ecosystems for the services that they provide. These practices are often, but not exclusively, evidenced in traditional and Indigenous societies around the world.

The article uses new ethnographic evidence and literature reviews from Indigenous communities in two rainforest regions of the world – the Amazon, and the temperate rainforests of the Pacific North-West.

The authors develop the concept of ‘Services to Ecosystems’ (S2E) to close the loop of a reciprocal relationship between humans and ecosystems. A new framework is presented to support the inclusion of this more holistic understanding in research and practice.

"The original 'Ecosystem Services' conceptualisation, of a one-way flow of benefits from ecosystems to humans, is over-simplistic and largely inaccurate."

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