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Socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic Countries

Synthesis in the context of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)

image of Socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic Countries

Nature provides a range of benefits (ecosystem services) that underpin human and socio-economic well-being. Many of these benefits – and the associated economic values – are not acknowledged in decision-making. As a result, nature remains almost invisible in the political and individual choices made. This report presents a synthesis of the socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic countries. The study was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) and the NCM Finnish Presidency in 2011, following in the footsteps of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative. The study reveals that Nordic ecosystems play an integral role in supporting socio-economic wellbeing. However, a number of gaps in the existing information base still need to be addressed to ensure that these benefits are fully integrated into the Nordic decision-making processes.

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Conclusions

While the data available does not yet allow a systematic assessment of the status, trends and value of Nordic ecosystem services some preliminary conclusions can be drawn. The TEEB Nordic scoping assessment reveals that, while in many ways similar to the global level, the range of benefits provided by ecosystem services in the Nordic countries exhibits some characteristics distinct to the region. While provisioning services provided by agriculture, forestry and fisheries remain essential also in the Nordic countries a number of other regionally important ecosystem services can also be identified. These include, in particular, reindeer herding (especially in the north), wood-based bioenergy, non-timber forest products such as berries, mushrooms and game, and recreation and tourism. In addition, there seem to be a range of existing and novel possibilities related to different bio-innovations (see Box 10.3). Given the area coverage of forests in the region, it is not surprising that mitigation of climate changes (i.e. carbon storage and sequestration) is among one of the most significant – or at least most frequently discussed – regulating services provided by Nordic ecosystems. In addition, the importance of water purification (e.g. in the context of eutrophication of the Baltic Sea) and pollination are often highlighted.

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