Improvements in ecosystem services from investments in natural capital

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Science  17 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6292, pp. 1455-1459
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf2295

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China's national ecosystem assessment

China recently completed its first National Ecosystem Assessment covering the period 2000–2010. Ouyang et al. present the main findings of the assessment. Investment in the restoration and preservation of natural capital has resulted in improvements at the national level in most of the major ecosystem services measured. In particular, food production, carbon sequestration, and soil retention showed strong gains; on the other hand, habitat provision for biodiversity showed a gradual decline. Regional differences remain nonetheless, and there are serious environmental challenges still to be met in areas such as air quality and the wider global footprint of raw material imports.

Science, this issue p. 1455


In response to ecosystem degradation from rapid economic development, China began investing heavily in protecting and restoring natural capital starting in 2000. We report on China’s first national ecosystem assessment (2000–2010), designed to quantify and help manage change in ecosystem services, including food production, carbon sequestration, soil retention, sandstorm prevention, water retention, flood mitigation, and provision of habitat for biodiversity. Overall, ecosystem services improved from 2000 to 2010, apart from habitat provision. China’s national conservation policies contributed significantly to the increases in those ecosystem services.

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