Arguments for protection: environmental goods & services
- climate regulation
- nutrient and waste management
- flood control
- coastal protection
- the provision of food, freshwater, fuel, medicines, building materials, fertile soils, and breathable air.
However, destructive human activities are seeing biodiversity lost and natural ecosystems degraded at an alarming rate.
As a result, nearly two-thirds of the world’s environmental services are under threat.
Around the world, this is contributing to reduced food security, reduced water availability, reduced income, reduced protection from natural disasters, and reduced human health.
South Africa's Mbongolwane wetland provides a wealth of life-sustaining resources to the Ntuli people, including water, plant material for weaving crafts and thatching houses, grazing for cattle, and land for cultivating crops.
The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concluded that the degradation of environmental services is a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – and that this impediment could grow significantly worse over the next 50 years. It also found that the harmful effects of environmental service degradation are often the principal drivers of poverty and social conflict.
By safeguarding biodiversity and natural habitats, protected areas have a key role to play in ensuring the continued supply of essential environmental goods and services. In this way, they can contribute towards poverty reduction and sustainable development.
Despite this, development strategies, policies, and programmes often neglect the importance of environmental protection for meeting long-term sustainable development goals.