benefit all of humanity, particularly the 1.6 billion that depend to some extent on the world’s forests and the 350 million forest- dwelling people whose subsistence livelihoods depend on them entirely (World Bank 2006; Tompson et al. 2009). Such servic- es include regulation of water flow to irrigate agricultural lands, protection against floods and landslides, providing clean water for drinking, bathing and fishing, providing non-timber forest products, and regulation of climate by acting as an immense car- bon store sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.
Many of these ecosystem services are not fully recognized and are frequently taken for granted. Only a limited number of re- sources that can be commercially exploited, such as timber, have been routinely considered in ecosystem economic analyses to date and have been pursued for economic growth. Tis very lack of economic valuation of ecosystem services represents one of the main underlying causes of their loss (TEEB 2009). More recently, however, studies are increasingly focusing on estimating
the value of the ecosystem services that forests and their bio- diversity provide, and incorporating them into economic mod- els (TEEB 2009). Fully accounting for all of these services is of vital importance to making informed decisions in long-term development planning at all levels of government, from local to national. Valuations of ecosystem services will help to ensure that those services are properly understood and appreciated in plan- ning processes, so that both productivity and sustainability can be maximized, leading to sustained economic development.
Although there is a growing awareness that loss of biodiver- sity and ecosystem degradation is a serious problem, many still fail to fully appreciate the inextricable link between biodi- versity, ecosystem services and economic development. Tere is a pressing need to better document and understand these changes to our planet and the threats they pose to human sur- vival, so that appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures can be developed and implemented.
A man ploughing a rice field in Aceh (Perry van Duĳnhoven)