Global modeling of nature’s contributions to people

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Science  11 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6462, pp. 255-258
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw3372

The future of nature's contributions

A recent Global Assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has emphasized the urgent need to determine where and how nature's contribution matters most to people. Chaplin-Kramer et al. have developed a globalscale modeling of ecosystem services, focusing on water quality regulation, coastal protection, and crop pollination (see the Perspective by Balvanera). By 2050, up to 5 billion people may be at risk from diminishing ecosystem services, particularly in Africa and South Asia.

Science, this issue p. 255; see also p. 184


The magnitude and pace of global change demand rapid assessment of nature and its contributions to people. We present a fine-scale global modeling of current status and future scenarios for several contributions: water quality regulation, coastal risk reduction, and crop pollination. We find that where people’s needs for nature are now greatest, nature’s ability to meet those needs is declining. Up to 5 billion people face higher water pollution and insufficient pollination for nutrition under future scenarios of land use and climate change, particularly in Africa and South Asia. Hundreds of millions of people face heightened coastal risk across Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas. Continued loss of nature poses severe threats, yet these can be reduced 3- to 10-fold under a sustainable development scenario.

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