World's ecosystems provide 'services' equal to global income

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The Independent Online

The world's biodiversity and ecosystems deliver services to humanity estimated to be worth as much as the world gross national income, the UN environment programme (UNEP) said Thursday.

In a study released two days before World Environment Day is held in Rwanda, the UN agency warned that two thirds of these ecoystems have already been damaged by humans.

"Biodiversity and ecosystems deliver crucial services to humankind - from food security to keeping our waters clean, buffering against extreme weather, providing medicines to recreation and adding to the foundation of human culture," the report said.

"Together these services have been estimated to be worth over 21 to 72 trillion US dollars every year - comparable to the World Gross National Income of 58 trillion USD in 2008," it said.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said this reality has not been given enough consideration in the past and urged governments to factor in ecosystem management in their development plans and accounts.

"In the past these services have been invisible or near invisible in national and international accounts. This should and must change," Steiner said at the launch of the report, entitled "Dead Planet, Living Planet".

"Restoration pays off: wetlands and forests can be up to 22 times more effective than investing in water treatment plants," he explained.