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ICSU launches new program to understand the human impact on Earth's life-support systems
Date:10/22/2008

This release is available in French.

Maputo, MozambiqueThe global scientific community has approved a new international research programme designed to understand the relationship between humans and the ecosystems that provide essential life-supporting services. The decision was made today at the General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and should help provide the scientific knowledge needed to ensure the sustainable use of our valuable ecosystems.

Ecosystems provide benefits essential for life on Earth (food, water shelter, habitat, recovery of nutrients, soil formation and retention) as well as cultural and recreational services (spiritual, aesthetic, educational and eco-tourism). In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) reported that, because of human actions, more than 60% of ecosystem services were degraded or being used unsustainably.

'Climate change, pollution, changes in land-use, and invasive species, coupled with population growth, increased consumption, globalization and urbanization, have put enormous pressure on the environment to provide the services that we need,' said Hal Mooney of the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University in California and chair of the expert group recommending the new programme.

'Unless we do something now, the tide of destruction will continue, causing catastrophic loss of biodiversity, widespread poverty and economic crisis.'

While the MA provided a baseline of where society is at in relation to its use of the resources that support us all, there is an enormous amount of research that still needs to be done, particularly in the knowledge areas that were severely lacking when the MA was being carried out.

ICSUalong with UNESCO and the United Nations Universityhas taken the lead on this and will establish 'Ecosystem Change and Hu
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Contact: Jacinta Legg
jacinta.legg@icsu.org
33-145-255-777
International Council for Science
Source:Eurekalert

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