In addition to their intrinsic value, ecosystems and their biodiversity deliver a broad range of ecosystem services that underpin human well-being and society. The continued loss of these ecosystems and biodiversity is endangering not only nature itself, but also the prosperity of current and future generations. Our mission is to stop this global loss of ecosystems and biodiversity by making nature count.
Nature contributes to societal and human well-being with many different direct and indirect benefits, called ecosystem services (ES). ES comprise of the following main categories:
The products or resources that can be harvested or extracted from ecosystems (e.g., food and raw materials) and which can usually be traded in markets.
The benefits obtained from ecosystem processes that maintain environmental conditions beneficial to individuals and society (e.g., air quality, flood protection, biological control). Generally these services have an indirect market value.
The benefits of ecosystems providing space (habitat) to allow the proper functioning of evolutionary processes needed to maintain a healthy gene pool, and by providing essential habitats in the life cycle of migratory species. Some classifications, like the CICES, combine Regulating and Habitat services into one category.
The experiential and intangible benefits related to the perceived or actual qualities of ecosystems, i.e. the non-material benefits from spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation and aesthetic experiences, including the appreciation of the existence of diverse species.
12 years later, the ESVD boasts over 8,000 values, an online interface and it is the basis of many projects involving diverse stakeholders. The concept of ecosystem services has been gradually taken up in decision-making, increasing the need for and applicability of ESVD.
Below you can find a timeline of ESVD’s bigger milestones and projects.
WHEN IT STARTED
The ESVD was initially developed in 2010 consisting of approximately 1,200 value estimates and it received much scientific attention. Since 2010, much has changed.
ON NATURE AND ECOSYSTEMS
Our social, economic and financial systems depend on nature and biodiversity in many ways. Ecosystems provide a diverse range of services, many of which we use, or benefit from without being aware of their true value. Often this value only becomes visible after fish stocks are depleted, crops fail due to disappearance of pollinators, villages are buried under landslides, coastal communities destroyed by flooding and many other so-called `natural' disasters which could have been prevented.
To make better informed decisions about the trade-offs involved in ecosystem management, land-use change, or any activity affecting biodiversity, we need better information about the full importance of ecosystems to our wellbeing and we need to internalize the values of nature into our economies.
A good understanding of the many ecosystem services that nature provides is often missing. Incorporating the right empirical monetary data on ecosystem services is difficult because doing research is time- and resource consuming. This is where the ESVD comes in.
At risk in the Netherlands alone
The Dutch Central Bank concluded in a 2020 report that 36% (510 billion euro's) of Dutch investments are highly dependent on ecosystem services and therefore are at risk in case of ecosystem degradation and loss of biodiversity. Indebted to nature, 2020
€510 000 000 000
If ecosystem services and nature are to be integrated into decision-making which is needed for the protection of biodiversity and for sustainable use of resources, we need simple and accessible databases and tools. This is where the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD) comes in.