Wales Biodiversity Partnership

Ecosystem Approach

Biodiversity underpins ecosystems and an ecosystems approach provides a framework for looking at whole ecosystems in decision-making, and for valuing the ecosystem services they provide, to ensure that society can maintain a healthy and resilient natural environment now and for future generations.

The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 puts the ecosystem approach into statute through a set of principles, which are based on the 12 principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines the ecosystem approach as “A strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way”. In general terms, an ecosystem approach is designed to deliver biodiversity action at a larger scale than a single species or habitat and takes account of the needs of people at the same time. To complement the definition, the CBD define 12 complimentary and interlinked Ecosystem Approach principles

The CBD has also proposed Operational Guidance for application of the ecosystem approach focused around 5 key points.

A number of EU environmental directives are shaped to take an ecosystem approach:

UK National Ecosystem Assessment

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment is the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity. It is based around the processes that link human societies and their well-being with the environment and emphasises the role of ecosystems in providing services that bring well-being to people. There is a specific chapter relating to Wales.

The six key findings of the assessment are:

  • The natural world, its biodiversity and its constituent ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic prosperity, but are consistently undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision making.
  • Ecosystems and ecosystem services, and the ways people benefit from them, have changed markedly in the past 60 years, driven by changes in society.
  • The UK’s ecosystems are currently delivering some services well, but others are still in long-term decline.
  • The UK population will continue to grow, and its demands and expectations continue to evolve. This is likely to increase pressures on ecosystem services in a future where climate change will have an accelerating impact both here and in the world at large.
  • Actions taken and decisions made now will have consequences far into the future for ecosystems, ecosystem services and human well-being. It is important that these are understood, so that we can make the best possible choices, not just for society now but also for future generations.
  • A move to sustainable development will require an appropriate mixture of regulations, technology, financial investment and education, as well as changes in individual and societal behaviour and adoption of a more integrated, rather than conventional sectoral, approach to ecosystem management.

The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity (TEEB)

The TEEB study was a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.

Wales Biodiversity Partnership is working to meet these challenges - to secure a future for biodiversity and for future generations