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  • 8/3/2019 Nbsp Ecological&Nbsp_Footprints


    Fundamentals ofEnvironment Unit


    Unit 012 Ecosystems Servicesand

    Ecological foot prints


    012.1. Introduction


    012.2. Over view of ecosystem services

    Conceptual bases

    Provisioning services

    Regulatory services

    Cultural services

    Supporting Services

    Self Assessment Questions

    012.3. Ecological foot prints

    Urban foot prints

    Agricultural foot prints

    Transportation foot prints

    Water Prints

    Self Assessment Questions

    012.4. Summary

    012.5. Terminal Questions

    012.6. Answers

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    012.1 Introduction

    The previous chapters discussed about the various components of the earth

    and their composition and functions. The worlds ecosystem and their

    components provide myriad benefits to people. With the emergence of

    Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the concept of ecosystem services

    gained importance.large notice. Ecosystem services normally consist of

    features of public goods, such that they are easily available to everybody.Therefore, private motivation to control ecosystem services never brings out

    their entire value to the public and they are prone to many issues from

    marketable product uses.

    The concept of ecosystem services has received significant attention since

    the appearance of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Ecosystem

    services generally have the characteristics of public goods, in that they are

    freely accessible to everyone. As a result, private incentives to maintain

    ecosystem services do not reflect their full value to society and they oftenface pressure from more marketable resource uses.

    ForAround the past two decades, one third of the global mangrove marshes

    are transformed to use by human beings, including many changed into

    precious shrimp ranches. A shrimp ranch yielded a commercial profit per

    hectare of $9,632 in Thailand in 2007. Over the past two decades around a

    third of the worlds mangrove swamps have been converted for human use,

    with many turned into valuable shrimp farms. In 2007 an economic study of

    such shrimp farms in Thailand showed that the commercial profits per

    hectare were $9,632. However, proper accounting of this figure showed that

    for each hectare, the government subsidies amount to $to $8,412

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    and8,412 and it also involved additional costs of $1,000 for pollution and$12,392 for losses to ecosystem services. ( This led

    to the resulted in loss ofharm the supply of food and medicine which

    humans gained from forests, loss of habitats for fish, and low buffering

    against storms. As a particular shrimp ranch remains productive only for

    three to four years, further money had to be spent on re-establishing them.

    later. Ifit is donecase of formangroves, put ian extra amount of$9,318 per

    hectare would be needed..Eventually the private sectors stand to gain by

    such operations while people suffer from the burden imposed on them. The

    overall message is that what advantages only looks so because the profits

    stay with the private sector whereas problems are reflected on the people in

    large size, which appears on no particular balance sheet. (The Economist,

    Oct 2011). Thus nature provides us with countless services which can be

    tapped for the benefit of mankind. Business provides both goods and

    services, similarly nature provides us with countless services.

    These comprised damage to the supply of foods and medicines that people

    had taken from the forest, the loss of habitats for fish, and less buffering

    against storms. And because a given shrimp farm only stays productive for

    three or four years, there was the additional cost of restoring them

    afterwards: if you do so with mangroves themselves, add another $9,318

    per hectare. The overall lesson is that what beneficial only does looks sobecause the profits are retained by the private sector, while the problems

    are spread out across society at large, appearing on no specific balance

    sheet (The Economist, Oct 2011). Just as businesses manufacture both

    goods and services, so too does nature providing us with innumerable



    After studying this unit, you will be able to:

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    discuss importance of natural capital and its role in economic,ecological and social function

    explain different kinds of ecosystem services

    conceptualize ecological foot prints of resource utilization

    describe how human activities contribute to ecological foot prints in

    food production, transportation, agriculture etc.,

    012.2 Over view of ecosystem services

    Towards the end of 1990s, some ecologists and economists teamed up on

    an attempt to estimategive value for natures services. In a total, tThey

    calculated that the value of natures services were to be around $33 trillion

    per year (Table 1). The value was almost two times that of the total gross

    development product of all nations at that time. ($18 trillion in 1997). The

    estimation created a buzz through the world and a liberal amount of

    controversy. The term ecosystem services was started to be widely used in

    the ensuing dialogueperiod., and officially recognized the term in a

    publication iIn 1997, the Ecological Society of America officially clarified that

    ecosystem services, "refers to a wide range of conditions and processes

    through which natural ecosystems, and the species that are part of them,help sustain and fulfillfulfil human life."1

    In the late 1990s, a group of ecologists and economists collaborated on an

    effort to assign value to nature's services. In sum, they estimated that

    nature's services were worth some $33 trillion per year (Table 1). Since the

    number was almost twice that of the total gross national products of all

    countries at the time ($18 trillion in 1997). The finding generated a global

    buzz and a generous dose of controversy. The term ecosystem services

    came into widespread use in the ensuing dialogue and, formalizing the term


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    in a 1997 publication, the Ecological Society of America explained that'ecosystem services', "refers to a wide range of conditions and processes

    through which natural ecosystems, and the species that are part of them,

    help sustain and fulfill human life." (

    Every land use decision consists of implied supposition about land value,

    yet no dollarbased figure is assigned. The issue is that the value of services

    offered by earths ecosystem cannot connect to present economic

    equations, partially as many benefits are placed outside the marketplace.

    Such services are regarded as public properties which add countless

    benefits to human welfare without ever being drawn into the money

    economy. For example, the production of essential nutrients such as

    nitrogen and phosphorous, which is not reflected in any countrys GNP,

    equals US$ 17 trillion of the US$33 trillion in annual ecosystem. (Table 1)

    Every land use decision involves implicit assumptions about value, even

    when no dollar figure is assigned. The problem is that the value of services

    provided by the Earth's ecological infrastructure does not fit into current

    economic equations, partly because most of the benefits fall outside the

    marketplace. Such services are public goods that contribute immeasurably

    to human welfare without ever being drawn into the money economy. Forinstance, the cycling of essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus,

    which is not reflected in any nation's GNP, accounts for US$17 trillion of the

    US$33 trillion in annual ecosystem (Table 1).

    A series of goods and services offered by ecosystems stresses that the

    biological diversity existing in them is necessary for our economic

    development and other facets of benefits. In a wide sense, ecosystem

    services indicate a series of conditions and processes out ofby which

    natural ecosystems and theircomponents organisms present there supports

    human life. These services control the growth of ecosystem goods, the

    natural products that are , harvested or used by humans. sSuch products

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    include as wild fruit and nuts, timber, gumame, medicines, natural fiberes,forage and so on. lMost significantly, especially for those in least developed

    grown economies , ecosystem services initiates help life by controlling

    necessary processes, such as purification of water and air, pollination of

    crops, nutrient cycling, production and renewal of soil, and decomposition of

    wastes, moreover by temperate environmental conditions t