Socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic Countries

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

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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.



Identification of gaps in the existing knowledge

Based on the information gathered in the context of this study, significant gaps in available data on Nordic ecosystem services remain. This is especially the case for regulating and cultural services and the supporting processes and functions of ecosystems. In addition, a very limited amount of information (existing indicators) are available to assess the status of and trends in ecosystems’ biophysical ability to provide and maintain ecosystem services. These finding are consistent with Layke (2009) and are summarised in Tables 11.1 and 11.2 below. Important concrete information gaps include, for example, lack of estimates reflecting broader cultural and landscape values, lack of data on nature’s role in maintaining health, and lack of information on the indirect employment impacts of nature. In terms of ecosystems, there seems to be considerable gaps related to marine ecosystem services (beyond fisheries).


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