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Ecosystem Change

 

Glossary over Ecosystem Change

Adaptation

Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment.

Various types of adaptation can be distinguished, including anticipatory and reactive adaptation, private and public adaptation, and autonomous and planned adaptation. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
 Glossary )

Adaptive capacity

The general ability of institutions, systems, and individuals to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
 Glossary )

Adaptive management

A systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of previously employed policies and practices.

In active adaptive management, management is treated as a deliberate experiment for the purpose of learning. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
 Glossary )

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Algal bloom

The rapid excessive growth of algae, generally caused by high nutrient levels and favourable conditions. Can result in deoxygenation of the water mass when the algae die, leading to the death of aquatic flora and fauna. (Source: Water resources Management Practicum 2000 Biology )

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Alien species

An alien species is a species introduced outside its normal distribution.

Invasive alien species are alien species whose establishment and spread modify ecosystems, habitats, or species. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development

"Com+ is a partnership of international organizations and communications professionals from diverse sectors committed to using communications to advance a vision of sustainable development that integrates its three pillars: economic, social and environmental.

By offering a platform to share expertise, develop best practice and create synergies, Com+ hopes to actively support creative and inspiring communications across the world."

"Com+ envisions societies that advance and strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development — economic development, social equity and environmental conservation — at local, national, regional, and global levels." (Source: Com+ website  )

Aquaculture

Breeding and rearing of fish, shellfish, or plants in ponds, enclosures, or other forms of confinement in fresh or marine waters for the direct harvest of the product. (Source: MA   Glossary )

Baltic21

Education for Sustainable Development

"This site is initiated by the Finnish Ministry of Education as a part of their Baltic 21 activities. The implementation of the site has been carried out jointly by the Baltic University Programme at Uppsala University, Sweden and Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland."

"This site will help you find internet resources on education for sustainable development. In the first place this site is directed towards university teachers on sustainable development in the Baltic Sea region. This site is also intended to be a resource for other teachers on sustainable development and of course for the students and not least for the interested general public." (Source: Baltic21 website )

Biocide(s)

According to the Biocides Directive (98/8/EC), biocidal products are those that are intended to destroy, render harmless, prevent the action of, or otherwise exert a controlling effect on any harmful organism by chemical or biological means. Examples include disinfectants, preservatives, antiseptics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

Biocidal products mentioned in the Biocides Directive are listed in the following table: (Source: GreenFacts, based on the Biocides Directive (98/8/EC)  )

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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is a contraction of biological diversity. Biodiversity reflects the number, variety and variability of living organisms.

It includes diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (species diversity), and between ecosystems (ecosystem diversity). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Biome

Ecological communities of living things, such as microorganisms, plants and animals; the communities form as a result of the physical surroundings, including the land, air, and water of an area. For example, deserts, grasslands, and tropical rainforests are biomes. (Source: Exploring the Environment Glossary  )

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Biotechnology

Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof to make or modify products or processes for specific use. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Carbon dioxide (CO2)

A colorless, odorless, non-combustible gas, present in low concentrations in the air we breathe (about three hundredths of one percent by volume).

Carbon dioxide is produced when any substance containing carbon is burned. It is also a product of breathing and fermentation. Plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. (Source: The Pacific Forest Trust Glossary )

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Carbon sequestration

The removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as oceans, forests or soils) through physical or biological processes, such as photosynthesis.

Humans have tried to increase carbon sequestration by growing new forests. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Center for Applied Biodiversity Science

The Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International:

"The mission of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) is to strengthen CI's ability to identify and respond to elements that threaten the earth's biological diversity.

CABS brings together leading experts in science and technology to collect and interpret data about biodiversity, develop strategic plans for conservation, and forge partnerships in all sectors that promote conservation goals. CABS promotes public awareness and involvement in saving the planet's living resources.

CABS was founded in 1998 with a major grant from the Co-Founder of Intel Corporation, Gordon Moore, and his wife Betty. CABS focuses on generating and disseminating science-based information to support Conservation International's broader goals. Conservation International (CI) was founded in 1987 with the mission to conserve biodiversity and to demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature." (Source: CABS website )

Climate change

The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other aspects of the Earth's climate.

It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

Common pool resource

Common pool resources (CPR) are characterised by the difficulty of excluding actors from using them and the fact that the use by one individual or group means that less is available for use by others. (The latter point distinguishes CPR from pure public goods which exhibit both non excludability and non rivalry in consumption).

CPRs include some fisheries, irrigation systems and grazing areas. (Source: Livelihoods Connect Glossary  )

Community

When referring to humans, a community is defined as:

A collection of human beings who have something in common.

A local community is a fairly small group of people who share a common place of residence and a set of institutions based on this fact, but the word ‘community’ is also used to refer to larger collections of people who have something else in common (e.g., national community, donor community).

When referring to other living organisms, a community is defined as:

An assemblage of species occurring in the same space or time, often linked by biotic interactions such as competition or predation. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Comparative advantage

In economic theory, a country has a comparative advantage over another in the production of a good if it can produce it at a lower opportunity cost. That means it has to give up less labor and resources in other goods in order to produce it. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Condition (of ecosystems)

The condition of an ecosystem is the capacity of that ecosystem to yield services, relative to its potential capacity.

The condition of an ecosystem service is the capacity of that ecosystem service to yield benefits to people, relative to its potential capacity. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Conservation International

"Conservation International believes that Earth's natural heritage must be maintained if future generations are to thrive spiritually, culturally and economically.

Our mission is to conserve the Earth's living heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature."

"CIapplies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the hotspots, major tropical wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 30 countries on four continents." (Source: CI website )

Cost-benefit analysis

A type of economic evaluation in which both the costs and consequences of different interventions are expressed in monetary units. (Source: CiREM Definitions  )

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Cycads

Cycads are woody plants which produce seeds. Because of their general appearance, they are usually linked to palms or ferns, when in fact they are not related to either. Cycads are actually a unique assemblage of plants unrelated to any other group of living plants. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Andy Boze's website Cycads  )

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Desertification

Land degradation in drylands resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

Land degradation in drylands resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Development Gateway Foundation

"The Development Gateway Foundation is an enabler of development. We help improve people’s lives in developing countries by building partnerships and information systems that provide access to knowledge for development. We exploit powerful and affordable information and communication technologies (ICT) that were previously unavailable to:

Increase knowledge sharing;The Development Gateway is an independent not-for-profit organization. It was conceived by World Bank President James Wolfensohn and initially developed in the World Bank. Operations began in July 2001." Enhance development effectiveness; Improve public sector transparency; and Build local capacity to empower communities.

The Development Gateway is an independent not-for-profit organization. It was conceived by World Bank President James Wolfensohn and initially developed in the World Bank. Operations began in July 2001." (Source: DGF website )

Driver

Any natural or human-induced factor that directly or indirectly causes a change. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Earth Legacy

"Earth Legacy is a collaboration of a diverse group of civil society organizations seeking to restore U.S. leadership in the protection of the global environment. We want to assure that we will leave our children a world as healthy, bountiful, and beautiful as the one we inherited. We share a profound concern about the degradation of the Earth’s natural systems that threatens our nation’s security and the health, safety, and well-being of the American public. We will be pooling our resources to increase the visibility of global environmental issues in the upcoming national debate about the future of our nation and the engagement of citizens who share our concern. We will encourage and promote constructive U.S. cooperation with other nations in the preservation of our planet’s environment." (Source: Earth Legacy Home page )

Ecological surprises

Unexpected - and often disproportionately large - consequences of changes in the environment (such as change in climate or invasions of alien species). (Source: MA Glossary  )

Ecosystem change

Any variation in the state, outputs, or structure of an ecosystem. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Ecosystem management

An approach to natural resource management which aims to sustain ecosystems to meet both ecological and human needs in the future. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Ecosystem processes

The physical, chemical and biological actions or events that link organisms and their environment. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Ecosystem scale

The geographical area that is considered an ecosystem, depending on the purpose of the analysis. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Ecosystem services

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems.

These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. (Source: MA  Summary )

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Ecosystem(s)

The complex system of plant, animal, fungal, and microorganism communities and their associated non-living environment interacting as an ecological unit.

Ecosystems have no fixed boundaries; instead their parameters are set to the scientific, management, or policy question being examined. Depending upon the purpose of analysis, a single lake, a watershed, or an entire region could be considered an ecosystem. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change Terms   )

EnergyBulletin.net

"EnergyBulletin.net is designed to be a clearinghouse for current information regarding the peak in global energy supply."

"EnergyBulletin.net site is edited and maintained by a small number of individuals unaffiliated with any private, government, or institutional body. We obtain no reward or compensation of any kind for maintaining the information herein, and are motivated only by the desire to provide a useful, up-to-date information source for peak oil and related stories, to help navigate what may be difficult times ahead."

"On the issue of resource depletion we will unapologetically be favouring geological pessimism over economic theory based optimism." (Source: EnergyBulletin.net website )

Environment DG

"The Environment DG is one of 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services which make up the European Commission. Its main role is to initiate and define new environmental legislation and to ensure that measures, which have been agreed, are actually put into practice in the Member States."

The mission statement of the Environment DG is: "to promote Sustainable Development, preserving the rights of future generations to a viable environment; to work towards a high level of environmental and health protection and improvement of the quality of life; to promote environmental efficiency; to encourage the equitable use, as well as the sound and effective management, of common environmental resources" (Source: EC DG ENVI website )

Environmental cycles

A natural process in which elements are continuously cycled in various forms between different compartments of the environment (e.g., air, water, soil, organisms).

Examples include the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles (nutrient cycles) and the water cycle. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Equity

Fairness of rights, distribution, and access. Depending on context, this can refer to resources, services, or power. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

EurActiv.com

EurActiv is the leading internet portal fully dedicated to European public affairs. It brings together daily EU news, weekly "Update" e-mails, in-depth analysis of selected policy topics, and a directory of 10,000 names of names of people and organizations acting on the EU level, the "Guide". All content is free of charge.

EurActiv aims to "facilitate efficiency and transparency (...) by providing news monitoring, policy positions, discussion forums and contacts on selected EU affairs topics, complementing the existing institutional websites."

(Source: EurActiv website )

European Commission

"The European Commission (EC) embodies and upholds the general interest of the [European] Union and is the driving force in the Union's institutional system. Its four main roles are to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council, to administer and implement Community policies, to enforce Community law (jointly with the Court of Justice) and to negotiate international agreements, mainly those relating to trade and cooperation."

The Commission's staff is organised into 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services, such as the Environment DG and the Research DG. (Source: EC website  )

European Environmental Agency

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) is one of the 15 specialised agencies of the European Union, which handle specific technical, scientific or management tasks. Operational since 1994, the EEA is based in Copenhagen.

"Its mission is to collect, prepare and disseminate timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information on the state and trends of the environment at European level. The founding regulation of EEA stipulates that it is open to countries that do not belong to the European Union but share its concern for the environment. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have been members from the start, and 12 out of 13 candidate countries have joined in 2002 (...)." (Source: EEA website )

Eutrophication

The increase in additions of nutrients [especially nitrogen and phosphorus] to freshwater or marine systems, which leads to increases in plant growth and often to undesirable changes in ecosystem structure and function. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Feedback

The process by which a system responds to a disturbance that makes it deviate from its initial state. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Fish stock

The population or [total mass] of a fishery resource. Such stocks are usually identified by their location. They can be, but are not always, genetically discrete from other stocks. (Source: MA  Glossary )

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Fishery

A particular kind of fishing activity, e.g., a trawl fishery or a particular species targeted, e.g., a cod fishery or salmon fishery. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Food & Agriculture Organization

"The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. We help developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. Since our founding in 1945, we have focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people. FAO's activities comprise four main areas:

  • Putting information within reach
  • Sharing policy expertise.
  • Providing a meeting place for nations.
  • Bringing knowledge to the field. "
Fossil fuel(s)

A general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials, formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's crust over hundreds of millions of years. (Source: US EPA Glossary of Climate Change terms  )

Freshwater

Water that is not salty, for instance water found in lakes, streams, and rivers, but not the ocean. Also used to refer to things living in or related to freshwater (e.g., "freshwater fish"). (Source: GreenFacts)

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Genes

The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. (Source: NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )

Genetic diversity

The variety of different types of genes in a species or population. Genetic diversity is really a form of biodiversity. (Source: NOVA Glossary  )

Global Footprint Network

"The Global Footprint Network is committed to fostering a world where all people have the opportunity to live satisfying lives within the means of Earth's ecological capacity. We are dedicated to advancing the scientific rigor and practical application of the Ecological Footprint, a tool that quantifies human demand on nature, and nature's capacity to meet these demands. Created in 1993 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees, the Ecological Footprint is now in wide use by governments, communities, and businesses to monitor current ecological resource balances and to plan for the future." (Source: GFN )

Global scale

The geographical realm encompassing all of Earth. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Globalization

The increasing integration of economies and societies around the world, particularly through trade and financial flows, and the transfer of culture and technology. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Governance

The process of regulating human behavior in accordance with shared objectives. The term includes both governmental and nongovernmental mechanisms. (Source: MA Glossary  )

Greenhouse gas

Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds.

This property causes the greenhouse effect.

Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover there are a number of entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine and bromine containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs). (Source: IPCC Glossary  )

Gross Domestic Product

The total market value of goods and services produced within a nation during a given period (usually 1 year).

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Groundwater

Water beneath the Earth's surface in the spaces between soil particles and between rock surfaces. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Habitat

The location and environmental conditions in which a particular organism normally lives. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Habitat change

Change in the local environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives.

Habitat change can occur naturally through droughts, disease, fire, hurricanes, mudslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, slight increases or decreases in seasonal temperature or precipitation, etc.

However, it is generally induced by human activities such as land use change and physical modification of rivers or water withdrawal from rivers. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Human health

A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The health of a whole community or population is reflected in measurements of disease incidence and prevalence, age-specific death rates, and life expectancy. (Source: MA Glossary  )

Inertia (of ecosystems)

Refers to the delay or slowness in the response of an ecosystem to certain factors of change. (Source: GreenFacts)

Institute for the Study of Society and Environment

"The Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (ISSE) integrates societal needs with knowledge of the environment to better understand and communicate impacts of weather, climate, and global change. ISSE fosters cross-disciplinary research by bridging social and natural sciences, the humanities, and technology to inform decision-making."

ISSE is part of NCAR, The National Center for Atmospheric Research (in the US), which in turn is operated by UCAR, The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. (Source: ISSE website )

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio- economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

IPCC publications are prepared by three Working Groups (WG I, II and III) composed of hundreds of scientists from many countries. The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (4AR), published in 2007, is available at www.ipcc.ch/ .

The "Summaries for Policymakers" by the three Working Groups, which were used as the source for the GreenFacts Digest on Climate Change (2007), can be found below:

The IPCC's previous report on climate change, the 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR), was also summarised by GreenFacts (click here for the Digest).

In 2007, the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change". (Source: IPCC website  )

Intrinsic value

The value of someone or something in and for itself, irrespective of its utility for people. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Kelp

A variety of large brown seaweed.

Kelp forests are marine ecosystems dominated by large kelps. These forests are restricted to cold and temperate nutrient-rich waters, and are most common along the western coasts of continents. Kelp forests are among the most biologically productive habitats in the marine environment. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Land cover

The physical coverage of land, usually expressed in terms of vegetation cover or lack of it. Related to, but not synonymous with, land use. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Land use

The human use of a piece of land for a certain purpose (such as irrigated agriculture or recreation). Influenced by, but not synonymous with, land cover. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Landscape

An area of land that contains a mosaic of ecosystems, including human-dominated ecosystems.

The term cultural landscape is often used when referring to landscapes containing significant human populations or in which there has been significant human influence on the land. (Source: MA  Glossary )

Malnutrition

A state of bad nourishment.

Malnutrition refers both to undernutrition and overnutrition, as well as to conditions arising from dietary imbalances leading to diet-related noncommunicable diseases. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Mangrove

A general name for several species of halophyte (plant that grows in soils that have a high content of various salts) belonging to different families of plants (including trees, shrubs, a palm tree and a ground fern) occurring in intertidal zones of tropical and subtropical sheltered coastlines and exceeding one half meter in height.

The term is applied to both the individual and the ecosystem, the latter of which is termed mangal. (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

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Market-based instruments

Instruments of environmental policies in which a change in technology, behaviour or products is encouraged through financial incentives (either subsidies, taxes, price differentiation or market creation). (Source: Environmental Programme for the Danube River Basin Glossary   )

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Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), endorsed by governments at the United Nations in September 2000, aim to improve human well-being by reducing poverty, hunger, child and maternal mortality, ensuring education for all, controlling and managing diseases, tackling gender disparity, ensuring sustainable development and pursuing global partnerships.

The eight MDGs are:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development (Source: GreenFacts, based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment )

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Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

"The MA is an international work program designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes.

The MA was launched by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in June 2001 and it will help to meet assessment needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species, as well as needs of other users in the private sector and civil society.

If the MA proves to be useful to its stakeholders, it is anticipated that an assessment process modeled on the MA will be repeated every 5–10 years and that ecosystem assessments will be regularly conducted at national or sub-national scales." (Source: MA website  )

Model

Mathematical representation or simulation of an actual situation. (Source: GreenFacts)

Natural capital

An extension of the economic notion of capital (manufactured means of production) to environmental 'goods and services'. It refers to a stock (e.g., a forest) which produces a flow of goods (e.g., new trees) and services (e.g., carbon sequestration, erosion control, habitat). (Source: EEA Multilingual Environmental Glossary   )

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Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental action corporation based in the US, uses "law, science and the support of more than 1 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things." (Source: NRDC website )

Non-linearity

A non-linear change is a change that is not based on a simple proportional relationship between cause and effect. Therefore, such changes are often abrupt, unexpected, and difficult to predict. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Non-market value

Most environmental goods and services, such as clean air and water, and healthy fish and wildlife populations, are not traded in markets. Their economic value -how much people would be willing to pay for them- is not revealed in market prices. The only option for assigning monetary values to them is to rely on non-market valuation methods.

Without these value estimates, these resources may be implicitly undervalued and decisions regarding their use and stewardship may not accurately reflect their true value to society. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Ecosystem Valuation  )

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Nutrient loading

Quantity of nutrients entering an ecosystem in a given period of time. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary)

Nutrients

The approximately 20 chemical elements known to be essential for the growth of living organisms, including nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and carbon. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary   )

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Open access resource

A good or service over which no property rights are recognized. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is "an international organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy(... It) groups 30 member countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and the market economy."

See their Environment Pages:

Policy-maker

A person with power to influence or determine policies and practices at an international, national, regional, or local level. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary)

Population

A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Poverty

The pronounced deprivation of well-being.

Income poverty refers to a particular formulation expressed solely in terms of per capita or household income. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Production / Productivity

Production is the process of creating, growing, manufacturing, or improving goods and services. It also refers to the quantity produced.

In economics, productivity is used to measure the efficiency or rate of production. It is the amount of output (e.g. number of goods produced) per unit of input (e.g. labor, equipment, and capital).

In biology, productivity is a measure of the efficiency with which a biological system converts energy into growth. (Source: GreenFacts)

Reforestation

Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forest but have since been converted to some other use. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Regionalization

Regionalization is the tendency to form regions or the process of doing so.

When used in opposition to globalization, this often means a world that is less connected, with a stronger regional focus. (Source: GreenFacts)

Resilience

Refers to the amount of disturbance or stress that an ecosystem can absorb and still remain capable of returning to its pre- disturbance state. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

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Scenario

A plausible and often simplified description of how the future may develop, based on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about key driving forces (e.g., rate of technology change, prices) and relationships.

Scenarios are neither predictions nor projections and sometimes may be based on a “narrative storyline.”

Scenarios may include projections but are often based on additional information from other sources. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

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Science and Development Network

"The overall aim of the Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net) is to enhance the provision of reliable and authoritative information on science- and technology-related issues that impact on the economic and social development of developing countries.

Our goal is to ensure that both individuals and organisations in the developing world are better placed to make informed decisions on these issues.

We seek to achieve this objective primarily through running a free-access website, but also by building regional networks of individuals and institutions who share our goals, and by organising capacity-building workshops and other events in the developing world." (Source: SciDev.Net )

Seed bank

Place where seeds are stored for short-term use in farming or for long-term preservation. (Source: GreenFacts )

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

A newly identified acute respiratory syndrome caused by a new virus, the SARS coronavirus, which is believed to recently have crossed the species barrier from animals to humans.

Signs and symptoms are similar to flu at the outset but progress to pneumonia-like symptoms. Whilst most infected patients have recovered, the lack of specific treatment options has resulted in mortalities.

When SARS spreads, it is mostly through breathing in droplets transported through the air when someone with SARS coughs or sneezes. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Species

A group of organisms that differ from all other groups of organisms and that are capable of breeding and producing fertile offspring. This is the smallest unit of classification for plants and animals. (Source: OceanLink Glossary of Common Terms and Definitions in Marine Biology  )

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Stakeholder

Individuals or groups that are affected by a decision and have an interest in its outcome. (Source: TDM Encyclopedia Glossary   )

Subsidy

Financial assistance (often from governmental bodies) to businesses, citizens, or institutions to encourage a desired activity deemed beneficial. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Sustainability

A characteristic or state whereby the needs of the present and local population can be met without compromising the ability of future generations or populations in other locations to meet their needs.

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Synergy

When the combined effect of several forces operating is greater than the sum of the separate effects of the forces. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

Threshold (in an ecosystem)

The level of magnitude of a system process at which sudden or rapid change occurs. (Source: PhysicalGeography.net Glossary of terms  )

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Time lag

An interval of time between two related phenomena (such as a cause and its effect). (Source: GreenFacts)

Trade-off

An exchange of one thing in return for another, especially relinquishment of one benefit or advantage for another regarded as more desirable. (Source: Answers.com Dictionary  )

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Trophic level

A trophic level of an organism is its position in a food chain.

Levels are numbered according to how far particular organisms are along the chain from the primary producers [plants] at level 1, to herbivores (level 2), to predators (level 3), to carnivores or top carnivores (level 4 or 5).

Fish at higher trophic levels are typically of higher economic value. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Figure 1.3. Decline in Trophic Level of Fisheries Catch Since 1950 )

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Uncertainty

An expression of the degree to which a future condition (e.g., of an ecosystem) is unknown.

Uncertainty can result from lack of information or from disagreement about what is known or even knowable. It may have many types of sources, from quantifiable errors in the data to ambiguously defined terminology or uncertain projections of human behavior. Uncertainty can therefore be represented by quantitative measures (e.g., a range of values calculated by various models) or by qualitative statements (e.g., reflecting the judgment of a team of experts). (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

United Nations Environment Programme

"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, works to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices everywhere. Its activities cover (...) the promotion of environmental science and information, to an early warning and emergency response capacity to deal with environmental disasters and emergencies."

See also UNEP.Net , which "delivers authoritative environmental information from a broad range of information and data providers (...)". (Source: UNEP website )

Urchin

A small sea animal related to starfish, sea lilies and sea cucumbers, shaped like a ball and protected by long, sharp spines. Often called a "sea urchin". (Source: GreenFacts)

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US Global Change Research Program

"The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) supports research on the interactions of natural and human-induced changes in the global environment and their implications for society. The USGCRP began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was codified by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-606), which mandates development of a coordinated interagency research program.

Participants in the USGCRP include:

Agency for International Development
Dept. of Agriculture
Dept. of Commerce, Natl. Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin.
Dept. of Defense
Dept. of Energy
Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health
Dept. of State
Dept. of Transportation
Dept. of the Interior, US Geological Survey
Environmental Protection Agency
National Aeronautics & Space Administration
National Science Foundation
Smithsonian Institution.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Council on Environmental Quality provide oversight on behalf of the Executive Office of the President." (Source: USGCRP website )

Value

Defined by Webster to be the quality of a thing according to which it is thought of as being more or less desirable, useful, estimable or important.

Using this definition the value of an ecosystem might be defined in terms of its beauty, its uniqueness, its irreplacability, its contribution to life support functions or commercial or recreational opportunities, or its role in supporting wildlife or reducing environmental or human health risks, or providing many other services that benefit humans. (Source: Ecosystem Valuation Definition of Terms  )

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Vulnerability (in ecosystems)

Exposure to contingencies and stress, and the difficulty in coping with them. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

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Water regime

The water regime of a freshwater ecosystem is the prevailing pattern of water flow over a given time.

More specifically, it refers to the duration and timing of flooding resulting from surface water (overland flow), precipitation, and ground water inflow. (Source: GreenFacts)

Water stress

Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use.

Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc.) and quality (eutrophication, organic matter pollution, saline intrusion, etc.) (Source: UNEP Freshwater in Europe Glossary  )

Well-being

A context- and situation-dependent state, comprising basic material for a good life: freedom and choice, health and bodily well-being, good social relations, security, peace of mind, and spiritual experience. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

"The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a coalition of 170 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.

Our members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. We also benefit from a global network of 45 national and regional business councils and partner organizations located in 40 countries, involving some 1,000 business leaders globally.

The WBCSD's activities reflect our belief that the pursuit of sustainable development is good for business and business is good for sustainable development." (Source: WBCSD website )

World Conservation Union

"IUCN is a unique Union. Its members from some 140 countries include 77 States, 114 government agencies, and 800-plus NGOs. More than 10,000 internationally-recognised scientists and experts from more than 180 countries volunteer their services to its six global commissions. Its 1000 staff members in offices around the world are working on some 500 projects"

"Our Mission is 'to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.' "

GreenFacts is a member of IUCN. (Source: IUCN website )

World Health Organization

"The World Health Organization  (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.

193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization, approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board, which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health matters of a regional nature."

WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.

The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of those regions.

WHO World Regional Offices
  WHO African Region  (46 countries)
  WHO European Region  (53 countries)
  WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region  (21 countries)
  WHO Region of the Americas  (35 countries)
  WHO South-East Asia Region  (11 countries)
  WHO Western Pacific Region  (27 countries)

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