CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, Volume 22, Issue 3
Welcome to another issue of MEQ. Readers will notice this issue tackles many matters related to environmental governance and here our thanks are due to Daniela Salgado Carvalho, from the University of Aveiro, Portugal, for the hard work in researching the topic and helping me to identify and select suitable contributions from across the world.
In this editorial, I would like to discuss the increased dependence of humans on ecosystem services and biodiversity, a theme which has many ramifications with the issue of environmental governance. This has been the subject of a study (Guo et al., 2010) which may be of interest to MEQ readers.
The study states that humans have altered ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than ever, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for resources along with economic development. These demands are considered to be important drivers of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.
The key question is: are humans becoming less dependent on ecosystem services and biodiversity following economic development? In order to address this issue, the study used roundwood production, hydroelectricity generation and tourism investment in 92 biodiversity hotspot and 60 non-hotspot countries as cases to seek the answer. In 1980-2005, annual growth rates of roundwood production, hydroelectricity generation and tourism investment were higher in hotspot countries (5.2, 9.1 and 7.5 per cent) than in non-hotspot countries (3.4, 5.9 and 5.6 per cent), when GDP grew more rapidly in hotspot countries than non-hotspot countries. Annual growth rates of per capita hydropower and per capita tourism investment were higher in hotspot countries (5.3 per cent and 6.1 per cent) than in non-hotspot countries (3.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent); however, the annual growth rate of per capita roundwood production in hotspot countries (1 per cent) was lower than in non-hotspot countries (1.4 per cent).
The dependence of humans on cultural services has increased more rapidly than on regulating services according to the study, while the dependence on provisioning services has reduced. This pattern is projected to continue during 2005-2020. Preliminary results indicate that economic growth has actually made humans more dependent upon ecosystem services and biodiversity.
There is no doubt that policies and the extent to which implementations of both economic development and ecosystems/biodiversity conservation goals are successful, play a role in the process. But one should not forget that ecosystems provide a service to all living beings and not only to mankind.
Enjoy your reading!
Walter Leal FilhoEditor
Guo, Z., Zhang, L. and Li, Y. (2010), “Increased dependence of humans on ecosystem services and biodiversity”, PLoS ONE, Vol. 5 No. 10