All of us enjoy the benefits from nature, even though we may not be aware of them.
Natural systems give us obvious benefits such as food to eat, trees for timber and beautiful scenery to enjoy or to recreate in. But nature also provides us with benefits that we rarely think about but which are vital for our well-being, such as clean water, flood protection and clean air.
All these “services" depend on natural systems remaining in good condition, but they are being increasingly challenged by an increasing population, demand for housing and infrastructure, the need to feed a rapidly growing planet and climate change.
The need to understand how natural systems (often called natural capital stocks) are linked to delivery of services, and how these linkages are likely to change in the future, is the impetus for the BESS research programme. When we have a better grasp of those linkages, those responsible for managing our landscapes on a day-to-day basis should be in a much better position to make decisions about the inevitable trade-offs that are required to ensure sustainable futures for all of us.
If you are interested in finding out more about ecosystem services, which are part of the Ecosystem Approach for managing and conserving the environment, then the following sources may be useful: