Graphics: Exactly why should we protect ecosystems?

To coincide with INESAD’s November Environmental Sustainability month, today’s Monday Graphics series is making a case for the worth of stable ecosystems.

 Assessing Forest Growth and Air Quality.

         The first infographic based on a UN Seminar on Energy for Sustainable Development conducted in 2011, despite the increase in Europe’s paper production over the past 20 years, forest growth has exceeded the harvest of forest goods by 45 percent. This translates to an increase in air quality as un-harvested forests provide valuable ecosystem services such as carbon capture.

The first infographic is a great place to start in order for us to understand the benefits of a stable ecosystem. However, while this graphic demonstrates the ability of forests to provide clean air, it could go farther in showing the additional benefits forests provide.  As a recent Development Roast article demonstrates, beyond improving air quality, intact forests also have the ability to produce rainfall, trap moisture, stabilize soils and nutrients, and provide food, shelter, and sustenance for countless peoples. These next infographics take the discussion a step farther in showing the benefits of healthy ecosystems beyond improving air quality.

Additional Benefits of Ecosystem Management.

As we can see in this next infographic published in 2009 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled “Protected Areas: Ecosystem Management’, proper ecosystem management can also provide coastal protection, increase local incomes while providing additional jobs, preserve freshwater sources, improve fisheries, and help regulate global warming.

How the World Stacks Up

So how are countries and the international community managing this ecosystem wealth? This next infographic again published in 2009 by UNEP and entitled “Forests: Ecosystem Management”  depicts the changes in forest cover over time along with countries that are leading the way in sustainable ecosystem management.

Healthy ecosystems and forests are much more valuable then just a source of lumber, economic stimulus, or a mechanism for trapping carbon. As we have seen, they provide many additional social benefits by providing protection from severe weather, increases in air quality, preserving fresh water sources, and providing important subsistence services such as increased fire wood, game animals, and other important food goods. Those countries that do manage these resources effectively, like Croatia, Poland, and Ireland to name a few, are able to see additional economic benefits ranging from newly emerging sectors like recycling services to improved productivity of agricultural and fishing industries. Other countries around the world should surely follow suit.

Do you know of any other infographics or studies that show the benefits of proper ecosystem management? Leave a reply below.

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