BY DR. ANDREW STAINBACK
We receive many important benefits from natural ecosystems. These benefits include raw materials, climate regulation, protection from natural disasters, recreation, pharmaceuticals, and many others. However, ecosystems throughout the world have been degraded by human exploitation and conversion to other uses. While historically these changes have led to economic growth and development, it is becoming clear that they are increasingly threatening human wellbeing and continued economic prosperity.
The United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimates that globally, 60% of the benefits that we get from ecosystems are being degraded or used unsustainably. As a result, there is a growing realization that actively restoring degraded ecosystems is vitally important in promoting future economic development and human welfare.