Martina Car ’10
Provisioning Ecosystem Services in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
Ecosystem services play an important role in multiple aspects of human wellbeing from providing people with such vital materials as food and water, to producing a healthy physical environment and a place for good social relations, to helping people feel secure and promoting freedom of choice and action. Services, such as the capacity of the soil to purify water, the contribution of pollinators to angiosperm reproduction and crop yield, and the role that pristine natural landscapes play in cultural or religious traditions, have been considered free for centuries. Such a perception unfortunately permits the unregulated exploitation of many natural resources. Increasing pressures from human development require innovative solutions that promote the sustainable use of ecosystem services and the use of alternative sources of income for communities which depend on degraded services for their livelihood. UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, as “living laboratories” for sustainable development, are particularly suited to innovative ecosystem service management approaches.
Unfortunately, biosphere reserve management committees and stakeholders are often not aware of ecosystem services or how to preserve them. My assignment as an intern for The Man and the Biosphere Program was to create a database of ecosystem service management approaches undertaken in biosphere reserves so far, as to ultimately create a collection of case studies that could provide valuable examples for biosphere reserve management worldwide. Through various methods of research, mainly reading publications, online documentation, and consulting experts in the field, I assembled case studies from across the world, with a particular focus on Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) schemes. Pulling together detailed management-oriented examples from biosphere reserves that describe mechanisms for dialogue, stakeholders, payment mechanisms, costs and benefits, etc…, my project aimed to present very accessible guidelines to using ecosystem services in a holistic management approach in biosphere reserves, so as to simultaneously preserve the environment and promote sustainable development.
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris, France