Some examples

Valuation of oak planting by Eurasian Jays

Garrulus glandariusSwedish scientists evaluated the oak tree planting service that Eurasian Jays Garrulus glandarius famously perform. Using the replacement cost (RC) valuation method, they found that a pair of jays in the Stockholm National Urban Park performed the work worth between $4,900 and $22,500, depending on the replacement seeding or planting technique. For the Stockholm National Urban Park, replacing jays in their planting activities would thus cost between $2,100 and $9,400 per hectare! Arguments based on calculations such as the one above can be used to legitimise spending on species conservation measures such as habitat protection and restoration of ecological connectivity. Integrating ecosystem services into mainstream economic thinking and public policy is a crucial step to securing a safe and prosperous future for humanity on Earth. You can read the full study here: Economic valuation of a seed dispersal service in the Stockholm National Urban Park, Sweden.

Biosphere 2 SunsetBiosphere 2 – can we recreate ecosystems and their functions?

Back in 1991 8 humans entered a completely sealed artificially built environment – the Biosphere 2 – to live in it for 2 years. Biosphere 2 was an experiment to see how malleable our life support system was. Can we create a self-sustaining mini-world? Do we understand the biosphere well enough to mimic its structure and functions and recreate a living system separate from the biosphere surrounding us, e.g. in space?

The experiment resulted in the levels of oxygen dropping from 20.9% down to 14.5% in 16 months and most vertebrates and pollinators became extinct. Although various claims were put forward regarding the reason for this phenomenon, it shows that our knowledge of the interlinkages between the biosphere, the atmosphere, the Biosphere Fog Desertlithosphere and the hydrosphere is far from complete. The ecosystem service of oxygen production – one that we all depend on every single minute of every single day – is dependent on a fragile natural balance that humans have begun to disrupt.