When you drink a glass of fresh water, do you think about how it may have been cleaned by a watershed upstream? When you eat fresh fruit or grains, do you think about the thousands of species - like bats, bees, birds, and butterflies–that pollinated your food? If you do, you’re a minority. Most of us don’t think about, or don’t even realize, the vast array of services nature provides us every day. We call this myriad of nature’s benefits on which we fundamentally depend ecosystem services.
Ecosystem services range from the obvious–crops, fish, fresh water–to those that are harder to see–erosion regulation, carbon sequestration, and pest control. Unfortunately, the majority of the Earth’s ecosystems aren’t in peak form. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an international report written by over a thousand experts released in 2005, found that over 60 percent of ecosystem services are in worse shape than they were 50 years ago.
This needs to change. Our current policies and approaches were established for a land of plenty. We are now entering a paradigm of scarcity. WRI is working toward a world in which governments and businesses value and invest in ecosystems–such as forests, wetlands, coral reefs–in order to secure economic growth and people’s well being.