Human use and exploitation of the biosphere is increasing at such a pace and scale that the sustainability of major ecosystems is threatened, and may not be able to continue to function in ways that are vital to the existence of humanity. Re-framing environmental resource use has led to the emergence of the concepts of ecosystem services (ES) and natural capital (NC). This discourse indicates not only a change in our understanding of planetary functions at the ecosystem scale, but also a fundamental shift in how we perceive the relationship between people and the ecosystems on which they depend. OPERAs (OPERATIONAL POTENTIAL OF ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH APPLICATIONS) aims to improve understanding of how ES/NC contribute to human well-being in different social-ecological systems in inland and coastal zones, in rural and urban areas, related to different ecosystems including forests and fresh water resources. The OPERAs research will establish whether, how and under what conditions the ES/NC concepts can move beyond the academic domain towards practical implementation in support of sustainable ecosystem management. OPERAs will use a meta-analysis (systematic review) of existing ES/NC practice to identify knowledge gaps and requirements for new policy options and instruments. New insights, and improved or novel tools and instruments, will be tested in practice in exemplar case studies in a range of socio-ecological systems across locales, sectors, scales and time. Throughout this iterative process, available resources and tools will be brought together in a ‘Resource Hub’, a web-based portal that will be co-developed by scientists and practitioners representing different interests and perspectives on the development, communication and implementation of the ES/NC concepts. The Resource Hub will provide the main interface between OPERAs and a ‘Community of Excellence’ (CoE) for continued practice that will benefit from OPERAs outcomes.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeCP - Collaborative project (generic)