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Ecosystem Change

9. What are the most important uncertainties hindering decision-making concerning ecosystems?

  • 9.1 What remains unknown about conditions and trends in ecosystems?
  • 9.2 What are the problems linked to the use of scenarios?
  • 9.3 What are the uncertainties in the response options?

Adequate scientific information related to a number of important policy questions on ecosystem services and human well-being could not be provided by this assessment.

The following key uncertainties were identified. Reducing these could significantly enhance the ability of a process like the present assessment to answer those policy questions. More...

9.1 What remains unknown about conditions and trends in ecosystems?

Conditions and trends in ecosystems are difficult to assess because of gaps in, or lack of:

More information is needed about:

More...

9.2 What are the problems linked to the use of scenarios?

There is a need for analytical and methodological approaches to explicitly link scenarios developed at different geographic scales. Such approaches would provide decision-makers with detailed information that directly links the local, national, regional, and global scales of the future of ecosystem services.

Significant advances are needed in models that link ecological and social processes. Models do not yet exist for many cultural, and supporting ecosystem services. There is also a lack of theories and models that anticipate thresholds at which an ecosystem suffers fundamental changes or even a collapse.

Communicating the complexity associated with comprehensive models and scenarios involving ecosystem services to non-specialists is difficult, in particular due to non-linear changes, feedbacks, and time lags in most global ecosystems. More...

9.3 What are the uncertainties in the response options?

There is limited information on the costs and benefits of alternative policy options in terms of total economic value (including non-marketed ecosystem services).

There has been little social science analysis of the effectiveness of actions on biodiversity conservation.

Not enough is known about the importance placed by different cultures on cultural services, how this changes over time, and how it influences the net costs and benefits of trade-offs and decisions. More...


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