Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

Journal Articles

The MA has inspired, informed or otherwise been featured in several specialized journal articles such as the ones listed below.

Special Issue on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Sustainable Development Update (Issue 2-3, 2006) (6/1/2006)
Includes the following articles:

  • Editorial: "The MA Has Had Zero Impact on Policy"
  • Healthy Ecosystems Key to Poverty Alleviation
  • Invest in Ecological Infrastructure in Poor Countries
  • The Future for Ecosystems and Human Well-Being Can Be Bright
  • We Need to Value Ecosystem Services More Comprehensively
  • Sustainability School: Ecosystem Services

Dollars and Sense
Lucy Odling-Smee, Nature, vol. 437 (9/29/2005)
Approaches to conservation that seek to protect the most endangered species have had only mixed success. Is it time to move away from biodiversity 'hotspots' and stress the economic value of ecosystems?

Ecology is key to effective aid, UN told
Jim Giles, Nature, Vol 437 (9/8/2005)
Support is growing for the idea of linking aid with environmental protection. A newe report proposes that enabling local communities to manage natural resources is the key to tackling poverty. In response, developement experts are calling for a more scientific approach to deciding how aid money should be spent.

Ecosystem services: a vital term in policy debates
Walter Reid, Robert Watson, and Harold Mooney, Science and Development Network (8/1/2005)
Walter Reid, Robert Watson and Harold Mooney defend the use of the term 'ecosystem services' as an essential way of communicating to policymakers the importance of the benefits that people receive from ecosystems.

Global Consequences of Land Use
Jonathan A. Foley et al., Science, vol. 309 (7/22/2005)
Land use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance. Worldwide changes to forests, farmlands, waterways, and air are being driven by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than six billion people. Global croplands, pastures, plantations, and urban areas have expanded in recent decades, accompanied by large increases in energy, water, and fertilizer consumption, along with considerable losses of biodiversity. Such changes in land use have enabled humans to appropriate an increasing share of the planet's resources, but they also potentially undermine the capacity of ecosystems to sustain food production, maintain freshwater and forest resources, regulate climate and air quality, and ameliorate infectious diseases. We face the challenge of managing trade-offs between immediate human needs and maintaining the capacity of the biosphere to provide goods and services in the long term.

Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior
Paul R. Ehrlich & Donald Kennedy; Science, Vol 309 (7/22/2005)
Global society is seriously threatened by the environmental impacts of human activities. Although the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been established to analyze biophysical aspects of global change, there is no equivalent effort to assess the role of individual behavior in creating those environmental threats. The authors of this Policy Forum propose the institution of a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior to establish serious dialogues about what can and should be done. It would draw heavily on social scientists and would engage groups of citizens globally in public forums to explore the moral elements and the consequences of choices about environmental change.

Taking the Pulse of Earth's Life-Support Systems
Erik Stokstad, Science, vol. 308 (4/1/2005)
A massive effort to document the state of ecosystems - and their ability to provide food, comfort, and other services - lays out some grand challenges, but no easy answers.

An Index of Intactness
Georgina M. Mace, Nature, vol. 434 (3/3/2005)
The global community is committed to reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity, but how can progress be measured? A novel system to tackle the problem may also identify key factors behind the changes.

A biodiversity intactness index
Nature, Vol 434 (3/3/2005)
The nations of the world have set themselves a target of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Here, we propose a biodiversity intactness index (BII) for assessing progress towards this target that is simple and practical—but sensitive to important factors that influence biodiversity status—and which satisfies the criteria for policy relevance set by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Application of the BII is demonstrated on a large region (4 3 106 km2) of southern Africa. The BII score in the year 2000 is about 84%: in other words, averaged across all plant and vertebrate species in the region, populations have declined to 84% of their presumed pre-modern levels. The taxonomic group with the greatest loss is mammals, at 71% of pre-modern levels, and the ecosystem type with the greatest loss is grassland, with 74% of its former populations remaining. During the 1990s, a population decline of 0.8% is estimated to have occurred.

The Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 Target
Andrew Balmford et al., Science, vol. 307 (1/14/2005)
Most of the time, most of us behave as if our ongoing destruction of biological diversity and natural ecosystems has a net beneficial effect on our personal wellbeing. This is because it often has-locally, in the short term, and for people with the most power. However, when a longer-term view is taken, conserving biodiversity and the services it provides emerges as essential to human self-interest

Peering into the Fog: Ecologic Change, Human Affairs, and the Future
Colin Butler, EcoHealth 2, 1-5, 2005 (1/5/2005)
For millennia, humans from diverse cultures have used oracles and omens, from entrails to comets, to try to read the future. Science and mathematics have long contributed to this effort, originally through astronomy but increasingly through the use of supercomputers allied with ever more sophisticated theories and datasets. For a while (before modern computers), the universe was likened to an enormous mechanical clock, and a conceit arose that given sufficient data, theory, and computational power, science might one day refine the prediction of human affairs to an accuracy approaching the plotting of planetary orbits. The more recent discoveries of relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory have shown the fallacy of this thinking and have even challenged the precision of astronomic forecasts.