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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

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  • RE: Global modeling of nature's contributions to people
    • Richard James Smithers, Associate Director, Ricardo Energy & Environment, UK
    • Other Contributors:
      • Malgorzata Blicharska, Senior Lecturer in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden

    Chaplin-Kramer et al (Science, 366, 255-258; 2019) provide fine-resolution maps of nature’s contributions, at a local to national scale, in relation to people’s needs for water quality regulation, coastal risk reduction and crop pollination. While their approach may seem broadly relevant to most of nature’s direct contributions to people’s needs that are only delivered at a local to national scale, it is not applicable to many other contributions that are also delivered at larger scales (1). For example, goods provided by nature (e.g. food, medicines, timber, etc.) may be used locally or exported to meet people’s needs in other countries (2). Even direct contributions of nature that are only delivered at a local scale (e.g. water quality regulation) may indirectly fulfil people’s needs elsewhere (e.g. by ensuring food exports meet international standards). This may, in part, explain “the Environmentalist’s Paradox” (3) that people in developed countries thrive even though nature is more intact in some developing countries (4).

    Mapping nature’s individual contributions at a local to national scale in relation to people’s needs may help to target investments in nature to “hotspots” that could confer greatest benefit to people, especially to those in greatest need. However, the complexity of socioeconomic and environmental interactions (5) means that such mapping may also misdirect such investments. Hence, if mapping is to help target investments that encourage both na...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.