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Reviewing Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services

By Rebecca Runting

What is the state of our understanding of the connection between climate change and ecosystem-service assessment?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Most of us worry about climate change in one way or another, but not many of us explicitly consider its impact on ecosystem services. Maybe that’s because ecosystem services themselves are often taken for granted or undervalued. Climate change threatens the provision of many vital ecosystem services, so it’s important we start taking this into account.

Integrating climate change into assessments of ecosystem services is vital if we are to avoid poor management decisions. For example, coastal land-use zoning that ignores the effects of sea-level rise could lead to a long-term decline in ecosystem services (such as flood protection provided by coastal wetlands).

To add to the challenge, climate change doesn’t impact ecosystem services in isolation – it interacts with other local or global stresses on the environment. Land-use change, population growth and pollution, for example, all create their own stresses and will interact with the impacts of climate change. For instance, a logged forest could become more susceptible to erosion if climate change leads to increases in the intensity of rainfall.

So, what is the state of our understanding of the connection between climate change and ecosystem-service assessment? We did a review of the scientific literature to see if we could identify important gaps. There are many studies of individual cases of climate...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.