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Elasticity in ecosystem services: exploring the variable relationship between ecosystems and human well-being

This paper presents a conceptual framework that unpacks the links between ecosystems to the well-being of different people, and sheds light on factors affecting ecosystem service elasticity.

The relationship between ecosystem quality and human well-being is variable, complex, and context-dependent, and we still lack understanding of how ecosystem services enhance multidimensional human well-being, and how well-being is affected by ecosystem change. In this paper, in the PECS special issue in Ecology and Societyexternal link, Daw et al. (2016) introduce the core concept of "ecosystem service elasticity", which captures how human well-being changes in response to increases or declines in ecosystem quality. To interrogate ecosystem service elasticity, they present a conceptual framework that maps the social and ecological links between ecosystems and the well-being of different beneficiaries. The framework is then applied to five different regulating, provisioning, and cultural ecosystem services studied in East Africa by the SPACES project. While requiring an interdisciplinary effort, the authors suggest that ecosystem service elasticity and the framework can be used to identify opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of different social actors to ecosystem change, or enhance the contribution of ecosystem services to well-being.


Ecology and Society


PECS - Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Visiting address: Kräftriket 2

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The Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a core project of Future Earth. It aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological system and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.