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Choose the right tools to assess how natural areas benefit people.
The World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-WCPA) has published a guide that will serve to assess ecosystem services within sites relevant to the conservation of biodiversity and nature. .
What are ecosystem services?
Ecosystem services are those benefits that people obtain from ecosystems.
These benefits can be of two types: direct and indirect
Direct benefits are the production of provisions - water and food (provisioning services), the regulation of cycles such as floods (regulation services) or soil degradation, desiccation and salinization.
Indirect benefits are related to the functioning of ecosystem processes that generate direct services (support services), such as the formation and storage of organic matter; the nutrient cycle;
the process of photosynthesis, creation and assimilation of the soil and the neutralization of toxic waste.
Ecosystems also offer non-material benefits, such as aesthetic, cultural and spiritual values or opportunities for recreation (cultural services).
In summary, ecosystem services include carbon storage and sequestration, water provision, recreation and tourism, income opportunities, and many other benefits that provide solutions to global challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.
Tools for the evaluation of ecosystem services
The guide is focused on key topics such as biodiversity, protected areas and natural world heritage sites. Using a set of decision trees, the right tool for the specific needs of each site can be selected in less time.
Identifying and quantifying the ecosystem benefits is key to contribute to improving the decisions of the relevant actors regarding environmental care. This guide provides you with tools that substantiate the importance of conservation and, for example, help attract new sources of funding and manage sites more effectively.
More than 20 international experts participated in the development of the guide and it focuses on analyzing nine evaluation tools to facilitate selection according to the specific context.
"Many site managers and researchers want to understand how their sites are benefiting people, but are overwhelmed by the number of tools available for ecosystem services," says lead author Rachel Neugarten of Conservation International.
The guide can be found in an interactive version, which accompanies the selection process of tools such as AIRES, CostingNature, EST, InVEST, MIMES, PA-BAT, SolVES, TESSA and WaterWorld, describing and highlighting the practical considerations of each one with resources and time requirements.
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