Living System Perspective on Ecosystem Services
Vegt, Michelle van der
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Within the last decade, the Earth has become recognized as a coupled social- ecological system, where human activities significantly impact the functioning of the earth system, its ecosystems, and vice versa. Currently, the ecosystem services framework still shows a mechanistic perspective of "nature for people". Based on limited social-ecological integration, this view gives the illusion that humans can exploit and control nature to their benefit via a one-way utilitarian relationship whilst perceiving humanity to be outside the system. Therefore, it is time for a paradigm change within the ecosystem services framework by thinking about social-ecological relationships and dynamics rather than treating planetary and ecosystem processes as separate biophysical systems occasionally perturbed by human activity. This thesis attempts to build a bridge between the social and ecological realms by placing the ecosystem services concept into a living system perspective. Showing through exergy how ecosystems can be viewed as living sys- tems whilst adding a foundational layer to the ecosystem services concept. We intend to increase the knowledge of decision-makers within policy and practice on the basic functioning of ecosystems by explaining how ecosystems have evolved to sustain themselves over time. Where we hope that this foundational layer can be used in the future as guidelines when working with the ecosystem service concept.
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