Research brief: Global trends in nature's contributions to people

December 07, 2020

In a new study Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a research team co-led by the University of Minnesota, examined the risks to human well-being and prosperity stemming from ongoing environmental degradation.

"There are many ways that nature provides benefits to people -- from the production of material goods to non-material benefits, and the benefits of natural ecology that regulate environmental conditions," said

The study looked at a variety of peer-reviewed papers addressing wide-ranging elements of trends in nature and associated impacts on people. The study found that: global declines in most of nature's contributions to people over the past 50 years, such as natural regulations of water pollutants; negative impacts on people's well-being are already occurring, including reductions in crop yields from declining pollinator populations and soil productivity and increased exposure to flooding and storms as coastal ecosystems are degraded; and understanding and tracking nature's contributions to people provides critical feedback that can improve our ability to manage earth systems effectively, equitably and sustainably.

"This paper highlights the value of nature's contributions to our well-being," said co-author
The work of this study builds from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment.

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