Hope all readers have had a good Christmas vacation. Sorry for the long(-ish) break, but its been nice to plug out for awhile. As a nice, easy first post of 2012, we have some really interesting stuff on Ecosystem Services over at the Solutions Journal. First there is a nice article by Jennifer Allan and colleagues (including Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom) on institutions to manage ecosystem services. Another article by Rudolf de Groot, Robert Constanza and colleagues focuses on the Ecosystem Service Partnership and its work in the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve in South Africa:
"The Mega Reserve is a World Heritage site and nature reserve and includes private and community land. Over several decades, areas across the reserve have been subjected to severe ecological degradation, largely a result of regional overgrazing by domestic livestock, large-scale crop irrigation, and invasive species. The impacts include riverbank erosion, a lowering of the groundwater table, and a decline of water supply to the downstream nature reserve. This loss of natural capital and decline of derived ecosystem services is causing great socioeconomic strain on the area and its people."
Finally, there is a very interesting interview with Walter Reid, the director of the Conservation and Science Program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. He directed the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Unsurprisingly, he is disappointed with the progress made since the release of the MA:
"We haven’t made much progress. There have been individual successes: carbon farming in Australia, Brazil’s progress in reducing deforestation over the last decade, logging bans in Thailand and China, and the rebuilding of fisheries in a number of countries. But, in the aggregate, I don’t believe that the trend of degradation has been reversed for any of the individual ecosystem services that were being degraded in 2000."
He makes the point that more work on Ecosystem Service is needed on relevant scales for decisions makers, i.e national or sub-national levels:
"The biggest lesson was, not surprisingly, that ecosystem services are most relevant to decision makers at a landscape scale. Even though the global risks and threats are most compelling at the global scale and in the aggregate, it is not at the global scale that we can do much about the problem. In the Millennium Assessment, we sought to address this by carrying out a multiscale assessment with some global elements and some subglobal assessments, but this still didn’t provide decision makers at the scale of a state or county with the sort of actionable information that they needed. What’s really needed in the long run is for much more work to be done to provide ecosystem service information at these more local scales and then to periodically roll it up so we understand the global consequences and trends."
All in all, some very interesting reading.