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Ecosystem services is one of the most powerful concepts to have emerged and developed over the last two decades to drive our understanding of the role that biodiverse ecosystems play in the environment and their benefits for humankind. As a result, there is a growing interest in operational and methodological issues amongst environmental managers, and many institutions are now developing teaching programmes to equip the next generation with the skills needed to apply the concepts more effectively.
This handbook provides a comprehensive reference text, integrating natural science and social science (including economic) perspectives, and demonstrating the relevance to policy and practice. Collectively the chapters, written by the world's leading authorities, demonstrate the importance of biodiversity for people. They also show how the value of ecosystems to society can be expressed in monetary and non-monetary terms, so that the environment can be better taken into account in decision making. The ecosystem service paradigm is therefore significant because it helps us redefine and better communicate the relationships between people and nature. It is shown how these are essential to resolving challenges such as sustainable development and poverty reduction in the developing world, and the creation of a green economy in developing and developed world contexts.