Module 2 Introduction

This module introduces the definition and classification of ecosystem services and how it links with human well-being. This is very important when one deals with economic valuation of forest ecosystem services. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) concluded about two thirds of the 24 ecosystem services assessed globally are degraded. This degradation will likely grow significantly worse in the first half of the 21st century (MA 2005). Many changes have occurred in the past 50 years which have brought new dimension in managing and conservation of ecosystem. Among the main key findings from the Millennium Assessment are:

  • Changes in land use have significantly altered the supply of ecosystem services.
  • Freshwater scarcity is an accelerating condition for more than 1 billion people, affecting food production, human health, and economic development.
  • The amount of water impounded by dams has quadrupled since 1960 so that three to six times as much water is now held in reservoirs as in natural river
  • Worldwide fish landings peaked in the late 1980s and have since remained static, even though demand has never been greater.
  • Nearly a quarter of mangroves and 20 percent of coral reefs have been lost since about 1980, together with their many services including their capacity to buffer coastal communities from storms.

The link between ecosystem and human well-being is well recognized by the government and all stakeholders. The central concept as proposed by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Services (TEEB) is “ecosystem services,” which can be defined as “the benefits humans derive from nature” (MA, 2005). The function of the ecosystem represents the potential that it has to deliver a service which in turn depends on ecological structure and processes. Services provided by ecosystem are useful things given to people directly and indirectly. As a result of human intervention on the ecosystem, ecosystem services may change over time even if the ecological system itself remains in a relatively constant scale. This occurs at local, national, regional, and global levels. Classification of ecosystem services provides useful information in analyzing the roles and contributions of ecosystem services to national economy. Forestry is one of the important biomes that provide significant contribution to human well-being. The four ecosystem services are provision, regulating, supporting, and cultural.