The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was a four-year, international effort to document the contribution of ecosystems to human well-being, assay the current state of ecosystem health, and offer a prognosis for how the capacity of ecosystems to support human needs may change under different management scenarios. The intent was to provide decision-makers scientifically credible information to help them manage ecosystems more sustainably while meeting human development goals.
The MA was a remarkably broad-based effort. Completed in 2005, it involved over 1300 scientists from 95 countries. It found that humans have altered the structure and functioning of the world’s ecosystems more substantially in the second half of the twentieth century than at any time in human history. As a result, 15 of the 24 ecosystem services the MA assessed are now being degraded or used unsustainably (MA 2005a:viii, 1, 6).
This unsustainable use stems from the fact that humans often favor some kinds of ecosystem production