The benefits of nature are often undervalued for us humans

The benefits of nature are often undervalued for us humans

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Researchers show how diverse people benefit from nature

People are directly dependent on nature and benefit in a variety of ways from the supply of natural resources. Medicine and especially naturopathy also take advantage of this. However, nature is often used as a naturally available service provider and raw material supplier and the entire range of uses of nature for humans remains underestimated, criticizes an international research team with the participation of scientists from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

"Adequate food, clean water and pure air are among the most valuable and well-known achievements of nature for humans", explain the scientists. Therefore, nature is mainly seen as a source of services and raw materials. In the current technical contribution, 30 international experts are now calling for a better understanding of the benefits of nature. Because only if the full range of natural benefits is taken into account can it be possible to “achieve actual protection and sustainable use of nature.” The researchers have outlined their positions in the renowned scientific journal “Science”.

All food comes from nature

In general, nature's services are of crucial importance for humans. The scientists emphasize that this applies to rich as well as poor countries. Food is a good example of the importance of meaning. In this way, all people get their food from nature and food security is a key issue that concerns politicians and decision-makers worldwide, the researchers emphasize. So far, the focus has been on things like nutritional value, biological processes and economic questions, the experts continue. But the importance of food actually goes much further. This also has an impact on things like cultural identity, art or joie de vivre.

Consider non-material factors of nature

The consideration of the non-material factors of the use of nature distinguishes the new approach of the scientists from the previous approach. For example, the environmental policy of the past decade was primarily shaped by the perspectives of the natural sciences and economists. Although the study of the so-called ecosystem services, i.e. the entire benefits of nature for humans, advanced the idea of ​​sustainability, insights and methods of the social sciences, the humanities and other approaches to the world were neglected.

Culture is a link between man and nature

The researchers emphasize that politicians and decision-makers need to be made more aware of the full range of uses for nature. For example, a broader assessment of the benefits of nature leads to the insight that culture is a central link between people and nature. The research team with the participation of professor Dr. emphasizes that the knowledge base of local communities and indigenous peoples needs to be given much more attention. Berta Martin-Lopez from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

Effectiveness and legitimacy for political decisions

According to the researchers, one way of implementing this is, for example, to incorporate the new perspective, taking into account the social, cultural, intellectual and religious importance of nature, in large-scale expert reports. An approach that goes far beyond the methods used to determine ecosystem services. The experts hope that this "more effectiveness and legitimacy for political decisions about dealing with nature, because it creates a broader and more qualified information base." A better understanding of the whole range of nature use is the prerequisite for protection and sustainable use the nature. (fp)

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