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Nature conservation vs ecosystem services – what’s the trade-off?

Blanket bogs deliver multiple ecosystem services (c) Martin Sommerkorn
“We believe this research is crucial to gain an integrated and holistic understanding of the impacts of nature conservation on the supply of services provided by our ecosystems.

There has been a renewed drive in nature conservation policy in recent years, but is it coming at the expense of limitations in the delivery of the many services that our ecosystems provide, such as tourism and recreation, provision of raw materials and climate regulation? The question is at the centre of multidisciplinary research by scientists at the James Hutton Institute, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, RSPB Scotland and the Seafield Estate in Scotland.

After looking at the impacts of nature conservation in the UK for the full range of ecosystem services across nine case-studies, covering a range of protected sites and comparable non-protected sites, the team found that protected sites deliver overall higher levels of ecosystem services than non-protected sites, with the main differences found in the cultural (e.g. artistic, education, religious, tourism, recreation) and regulating (such as air quality, climate, pollination, soil and water quality) services.

Socio-ecologist Dr Antonia Eastwood, part of the Ecological Sciences group of the James Hutton Institute and co-author of the study, said that against expectations there was no consistent negative impact on provisioning services (e.g. sourcing of energy, fibre, food and freshwater) across the case studies.

“Whilst the analysis demonstrated general patterns in ecosystem services delivery between protected and non-protected sites, individual responses in each case study highlight the importance of the local context of individual protected areas and the associated management. 

“We believe this research is crucial to gain an integrated and holistic understanding of the impacts of nature conservation on the supply of services provided by our ecosystems. However, more comprehensive research on ways to assess all of the cultural and regulatory benefits of nature conservation is essential, with input from local stakeholders and experts.” 

The study was funded by the Joint Nature Conservancy Council (UK). For more information see Eastwood et al. 2016, Ecosystem Services, 17, 152–162, and can be accessed online on Science Direct.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

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Printed from /news/nature-conservation-vs-ecosystem-services-%E2%80%93-what%E2%80%99s-trade on 24/01/19 10:22:39 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.