16 April 2011

The Safe House - A Fortress of Sustainable Solitude

This is a classic case of people interpreting 'sustainability' as technofixes at the individual level rather than the cultural shift in how we live that could render such design unnecessary. One wonders what kind of threats are anticipated, and how effective even this would be in the face of large scale upheaval.

Sourced from Inhabitat, 14 April 2011

'Forget the Slomin Shield - if you really want home security, move into the Safe House. We're not talking about a few bars on some windows or heavy duty locks here. The Safe House is a minimalistic home that transforms into an impenetrable concrete cube at the push of a button. Designed by Polish firm KWK Promes, the modern day fortress also features a hybrid heat system (with most of the energy harvested from from renewable sources) as well as passive house strategies. The photo you're looking at right now shows the home in its "secure" state, click through the gallery to see how it looks when it transforms.

Located in a small village on the outskirts of Warsaw, the Safe House is surrounded by a series of thick, movable walls that arm and disarm like an armadillo’s armor. In its daytime state, the eastern and western side walls move apart to the garden. Even in this configuration, the outer walls remain securely shut so that there is no risk of children running into the street while playing in the front yard. When visitors approach the outer gates, they can be admitted, but the side walls come forward to create a buffer zone while the person’s identity is verified.

The walls aren’t the only parts of the home that move. Large shutters create an extra layer of protection over the windows and a drawbridge (talk about going medieval) leads to a roof terrace above the swimming pool. The southern elevation is secured via an airplane hangar style roll-down gate made by a company that normally supplies shipyards. An added plus to the southern facade is that it doubles as a gigantic movie projection screen.

The house was built with security in mind but sustainability played a large part too. “Wide glazings behind the movable walls let the building acquire energy during the day (winter) or prevent the sun’s heat from going into the house (summer),” explains KWK Promes. “At night, when the house is closed, the thick outer layer helps the building to accumulate the gained energy. Such a solution together with the hybrid heat system (most of the energy is gained from renewable sources – a heat pump and solar systems supported with gas heating) and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery makes the house become an intelligent passive building.”'

Coalition of the Willing

Sourced from Coalition of the Willing, 27 July 2010

'‘Coalition of The Willing’ is a film that discusses how we can use new internet technologies to leverage the powers of activists, experts, and ordinary citizens in collaborative ventures to combat climate change.'

15 April 2011

Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design (FSPUD) Report Released

Sourced from Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab, April 2011

'Food sensitive planning and urban design (FSPUD) recognises that access to healthy, sustainable and equitable food is an essential part of achieving liveable communities.

VEIL and David Locke Associates were commissioned by the National Heart Foundation of Australia (Victorian Division) to develop a resource further articulating the idea of 'Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design' (first articulated by VEIL in 2008 as Food Sensitive Urban Design).

This new resource - Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design: A conceptual framework for achieving a sustainable and just food system - is intended to raise the awareness of planners, architects, urban designers, engineers, policy makers, community members and elected representatives of the need to integrate food considerations into urban land use and development. It outlines:

  • key areas in planning legislation, policy and processes to realise this outcomes;
  • how meeting people's food needs contributes to the broader objectives of planning and urban design, including: health and fairness; sustainability and resilience; livelihoods and opportunity; and community and amenity; and
  • a challenge to professionals and the broader community to take on a stronger role in ensuring that healthy, sustainable and equitable food is available for all Australians into the future.

Food Sensitive Planning & Urban Design - Conceptual Framework [pdf, 2.4MB]

Food Sensitive Planning & Urban Design - Summary [pdf, 5.4 MB]'

Das Rad (The Wheel)

"That was lucky!" << gold!!

Sourced from
YouTube, 7 November 2009

14 April 2011

Hooray for the Underdog

The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy has been named 'Best Green Think Tank of 2011' by Treehugger, an influential sustainability/green media outlet cited by TIME magazine as one of the top 25 blogs in the world in 2009.

Reposted in full from the Daly News, April 2011

'What’s more compelling than an astonishing upset? We seem instinctively drawn to the underdog; we routinely root for the resilient scrapper who refuses to back down. It’s why Team USA over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics has been memorialized as the Miracle on Ice. It’s why we cheered when Rocky Balboa went toe to toe with Apollo Creed (and subsequently KO’d All the President’s Men, Network, and Taxi Driver at the Oscars). It’s why Harry Truman’s defeat of Thomas Dewey in 1948 is one of the most famous U.S. Presidential elections. And it’s why David and Goliath is one of the most beloved biblical stories.

There are some powerful think tanks promoting “green” ideas around the world, especially when it comes to green growth, green technology, and green jobs. In a stunner, CASSE prevailed over them all as it was named the Best Green Think Tank of 2011 by the sustainability gurus at TreeHugger. Despite a miniscule budget and a skeletal staff that consists almost entirely of dedicated volunteers, the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy overcame odds almost as long as its name.

Perhaps it’s not all that shocking of an upset after all. With each passing day, the public is becoming more skeptical of the status quo and more receptive to CASSE’s message. Infinite economic growth on a finite planet makes no sense. It’s a difficult message to hear and internalize, especially amidst the constant clamor for evermore growth. But acceptance of this message is a prerequisite to making the transition to a steady state economy, and CASSE is the leading organization calling for this transition.

As TreeHugger notes, “When it comes down to advocating for what we humbly submit to readers as the single most important economic concept of the 21st century, CASSE comes out on top.” And CASSE is in good company – awards are piling up for people and organizations daring to challenge the orthodoxy of perpetual economic growth:

The New Economic Model, a project of nef (the New Economics Foundation), has been named a 2011 semi-finalist in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. And nef was the 2010 winner of the TreeHugger award given to CASSE this year.

The Post Carbon Institute won a DoGooder Nonprofit Video Award for its outstanding “300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds.”

Herman Daly won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council for Science and the Environment.

The Global Footprint Network won the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

These awards help validate the messages being delivered by CASSE, nef, Post Carbon, GFN, and dozens of other organizations. And they increase public awareness of noteworthy efforts. But more importantly, they provide inspiration for us to follow the lead of these organizations. Underdog victories prove that the little guy can win the game. Their stories help us realize that we have the power to accomplish big things.

Underdogs of the world unite!

In this case, the underdogs are all the people who are distressed about the direction humanity is headed. We are the people craving a sane solution to climate chaos, mourning the culture of materialism, searching for solutions to the ongoing assault on nature, and hoping for an end to poverty. It will take unprecedented commitment, hard work and perseverance for us to overcome greed-based corporate agendas, outdated economic institutions, and our own reservations about saying and doing what is necessary.

Now, however, is the time for underdogs of the world to unite in action. As TreeHugger astutely observed, “In all honesty awarding the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy a Best of Green Award this year is as much about promise as past action.” We need to fulfill the promise and find a way to run the economy on something other than endlessly expanding consumption. If you want to join the underdog movement for a sustainable economy, please consider taking some simple actions to raise awareness about the perils of perpetual growth and the positive possibilities of a steady state.'

The Antidote to Apathy

Sourced from TED Talks, April 2011

Local politics - schools, zoning, council elections - hit us where we live. So why don't more of us actually get involved? Is it apathy? Dave Meslin says no. He identifies the 7 barriers that keep us from taking part in our communities, even when we truly care.

12 April 2011

China's Ghost Cities

Here we are facing peak oil, climate change (cement manufacture being a major contributor), loss of forests - and China is building an estimated ten cities a year, but the government isn't concerned whether people are actually living in them, because it's maintaining economic growth! This is what the UN calls 'uneconomic growth'. Another word would be 'madness'.

Sourced from SBS's Dateline, 24 March 2011

The Odd Challenge for Detroit Planners

Excerpt from the New York Times, 5 April 2011

'When Marja M. Winters was studying urban planning in graduate school, she learned the art and science of helping cities grow.

Now Ms. Winters, a native of Detroit and the deputy director of the city’s planning and development department, finds herself in an utterly unexpected role, one that no school would have thought to prepare her for: she is sorting out how to help her hometown shrink, by working through difficult decisions that will determine which neighborhoods can be saved and which cannot.

“It was always this notion that the population of the world continues to grow, and more and more people want to live in cities,” Ms. Winters, 33, said about her courses at the University of Michigan. “The reality is very different. Who knew?”

Puzzling through the best way to downsize a city it is not unheard of (it has been considered in Youngstown, Ohio, and Flint, Mich. and even, decades ago, in New York). And Mayor Dave Bing has made it a priority to deal with Detroit’s fast-sinking population and crumbling infrastructure by steering those who remain into fewer neighborhoods, rather than leaving them scattered throughout the 139-square-mile city, whose boundaries made more sense when twice as many people lived here 40 years ago.

Actually carrying out such an effort, particularly in a city as vast as Detroit, is like solving a complicated set of interwoven puzzles, as Ms. Winters has discovered over many long days and some nights poring over thousands of pages of maps and statistics in her 23rd-floor downtown office.

How to reconfigure roads, bus lines, police districts? How to encourage people — there is no power of eminent domain to force them — to move out of the worst neighborhoods and into better ones?

Later this month, a team that includes Ms. Winters is expected to present a proposed — and certain to be highly controversial — map to guide investment in each of the city’s neighborhoods. A final plan for a remade city is expected by year’s end.

“The biggest misconception is that we don’t have to change,” said Mr. Bing, who was elected in 2009 and describes his city as a place that is “hurting” and “sick.”

“The biggest problems are those people who are on the outskirts more than anything else, where neighborhoods have gone down to a point where it makes no sense to reinvest,” he said. “People will say, ‘Well, why not me?’ And I’m saying, we don’t have the money to do that.”

Detroit is already shrinking on its own, of course. Recent census figures show the city, once the nation’s fourth largest, lost a quarter of its population in the last decade alone, leaving it with fewer than 714,000 people.

But the losses have been spread around the city, meaning that vacant, dilapidated homes and empty lots speckle Detroit’s neighborhoods, rather than cropping up in consolidated, convenient chunks on the city edges, leaving a more vibrant core. In fact, some of the city’s best-kept neighborhoods are on its outer edges, while the troubled spots are closer to downtown.

And so, a contingent of private consultants and city officials like Ms. Winters have taken part in one of the deepest mile-by-mile analyses of Detroit in memory, tracking population densities, foreclosed homes, disease, parks, roads, water lines, sewer lines, bus routes, publicly owned lands, and on and on.

Among the dismal findings: more than 100,000 parcels, private and public, are vacant; and only 38 percent of Detroiters work in the city.

The goal is to identify the strongest, most viable neighborhoods, which would receive extra attention and help from the city. The residents of some of the weakest, emptiest neighborhoods would be encouraged to move into them...

Rumors are winding through neighborhoods. Chief among them is that the worst neighborhoods will actually be closed, with the power turned off and buildings bulldozed. The true intent, Ms. Winters said, is far more nuanced, and slower-moving.

Though the city will offer some kind of incentives for people in miserable neighborhoods to move, no neighborhood will be simply shut down, she said. A place deemed not worthy of new residential investment might see subtle shifts: services like garbage pickup, she said, could slow to every 12 days from once a week.

“We want to reduce the city’s cost of delivering services, but we also want to support a baseline quality of life — the key is how do we balance that out?” Ms. Winters said.

The ultimate plan for those neighborhoods — and the ultimate cost of consolidating them — is uncertain; some might become home to new industry, and some might be used to fill temporary needs, or for urban gardens and green space.

In more well-to-do neighborhoods, like Indian Village, where mansions fill the blocks and lawn-service crews were out in force last week, the idea of shrinking the city’s neighborhoods sounds appealing to many residents.

“When I go in some of the neighborhoods now, I have tears in my face, I just can’t believe what I see,” said Rukayya Ahsan-McTier, who was walking briskly for exercise in Indian Village, while clasping a golf club in one hand for protection from stray dogs or, as she said, any other trouble that might come her way.

Still, even Ms. Ahsan-McTier had lingering doubts about how the city’s plan would work. How would the city persuade people to move from less expensive neighborhoods to more expensive ones? And would the new neighbors mesh?

Elsewhere, others had their own worries: Would this simply amount to another chapter of “urban renewal” in which the poorest, least educated and unluckiest would be forced to move?

And what exactly would become of the neighborhoods with diminished services, likely to be places already plagued in some cases by what residents described as new, audacious brands of crimes? (Stores in some neighborhoods here have taken to placing cement blocks outside their glass entryways, residents said, to prevent thieves from crashing their cars through the doors for break-ins.)...

For their part, city officials say the police and firefighters will always serve all Detroit neighborhoods — even ones where only a few people may be left.

Mr. Bing’s hope is that a “core group” of neighborhoods connected to downtown, and to the city’s spine, Woodward Avenue, will remain, and that the master plan will ultimately help end the exodus of Detroiters...'

Non-Geographic Mapping

click on link below to access interactive map

'The International Networks Archive is a worldwide alliance of scholars interested in developing a new system of mapping our world, based on global transactions instead of geography.'

Enjoy the Ride Takes Off

The Western Australian government's road safety campaign 'Enjoy the Ride' - an inspired and very clever piece of communication!

Reposted in full from the ABC, 11 April 2011

'Within minutes of its launch, the 'slow down and enjoy the ride' commercial had been viewed by thousands of people around the world.

The three minute Office of Road Safety ad was broadcast simultaneously on three television stations last month but its spread online has been rapid in its own right.

In simple terms, the campaign encourages motorists to slow down.

It hardly sounds compelling but after decades of road safety advertising that has had a limited effect on the state's road toll, this campaign appears to be getting the message through.

So much so, people from around the world have been logging on to YouTube to view it, and they are doing it over and over again.

So what's so different this time around?

The campaign has been two years in the making.

Derry Simpson from 303 Advertising says she spent countless hours poring over research, listening to focus groups and watching old campaigns.

She says it became immediately clear that if this campaign was to be effective, a new approach would be needed.

"We needed to move away from the enforcement and consequence model," she said.

"It was becoming quite clear to me that a lot of the traditional campaigns were becoming a form of wallpaper."

Derry Simpson says more than 80 per cent of people admit to speeding but men aged 17 to 30, who are in the highest risk group, were becoming especially resistant.

"I could see that the ads were starting to lose traction and that particularly younger males were very quick to dismiss them," she said.

"The problem is, somewhere along the line, most of those people think they are in control, and they think their speeding is ok."

Slow Movement

The concept that would eventually shape the ad fell into place when the speed of life was taken into account.

An Italian group dedicated to slowing down life's pace, whether it be cooking, travelling or parenting, came to be known as the 'slow movement' and broadly refers back to when life was simpler.

It began in 1999 but its popularity has surged in recent years thanks to social media.

A professor of social marketing Rob Donovan says it is clear the ad has struck a chord.

"I think what the Office of Road Safety has done is picked up on a social movement and embedded an advertisement in that; they have made it something that is broader than just slowing down on the road," he said.

He says the ad's appeal is broad because it has been framed in a positive way.

"What they [the advertising company] is doing is tuning into the underlying need that people have about wanting to slow their lives down and do things in a less complicated way.

"This campaign taps into the anxiety that people have about what they might be missing out on while they are stressed and rushing from place to place," he said.

"It's not that people are stepping back and going wow what a great road safety campaign, they are going wow, what a great idea about how I should live my life."

In a major coup, internationally known author and Slow Movement contributor Carl Honore has also come on board with the campaign.

It's the first time the author of 'In Praise of Slow' has chosen to endorse a road safety campaign, despite numerous requests from around the world.

Going Viral

Even those closely involved with the 'Enjoy the Ride' campaign were surprised at how quickly it took off on the internet and other social media.

Since its launch on March 19th the ad has been 'tweeted' 314 times, there have been 207 blog posts since, and more than half of those were recorded in the last week.

5,104 people have shared the clip on Facebook.

The clip posted on YouTube has had over 63,000 views and almost 30,000 of those were in the last week alone.

The Office of Road Safety's director of strategic communications Roger Farley says the ad is reaching those who are typically the most elusive.

"What's interesting is that those people who are tweeting and facebooking and blogging about this campaign are the younger audience who are very media savvy and who are the hardest to get a message through to," he said.

He says the move to create a more positive campaign rather than one which focussed on shock tactics has been a success.

"We have turned the whole thing on its head and lots of people have come to us and told us that things are getting too fast paced so that's why the advertisement is making such a difference," he said.

"We have had such a positive response and people are actually saying wow this is fantastic, where can I get a copy of it, can I buy it? I mean that is unheard of. "

It was interesting because we purposely kept road safety out of the equation until the final scenes.

It was more about the other things in life that can be improved if you slow down, and then road safety comes in at the end," he said.

Mr Farley says there was some concern about the strategy.

"There was a lot of anxiety associated with the campaign because we really were doing this for the first time.

We had a fair idea it was going to be a success but people have really taken the message on board, above and beyond what we ever could have anticipated," he said.

The council's chairman D'Arcy Holman says the campaign was a real change of thinking but it's been a total success.

"Every dollar that we have to spend on road safety campaign is so precious so we certainly can't afford to have advertising out there that isn't effective," he said.

He says the ad is just one part of a campaign.

"We need to remember this will be used in conjunction with other road safety messages.

The concern is that the minute you take those other campaigns away, then people will start to speed again, they will start to drink drive," he said.

11 April 2011

Tallest Mountain to Deepest Ocean Trench

Sourced from Our Amazing Planet, 7 June 2010

Our Amazing Planet explores Earth from its peaks to it mysterious depths.

Regime Shifts

Sourced from Regime Shifts, an initiative led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, April 2011

'Regime shifts are large, persistent changes in the structure and function of social-ecological systems, with substantive impacts on the suite of ecosystem services provided by these systems...they may have substantial impacts on human well-being, and are often difficult to anticipate and costly to reverse.

The Regime Shifts DataBase focuses specifically on regime shifts that have large impacts on ecosystem services, and therefore on human well-being.'

10 April 2011

How to Design a Neighborhood for Happiness

Excerpt from Shareable, 25 March 2011

'...The way we design our communities plays a huge role in how we experience our lives. Neighborhoods built without sidewalks, for instance, mean that people walk less and therefore experience fewer spontaneous encounters, which is what instills a spirit of community to a place. That’s a chief cause of the social isolation so rampant in the modern world that contributes to depression, distrust and other maladies.

You don’t have to be a therapist to realize all this creates lasting psychological effects. It thwarts the connections between people that encourage us to congregate, cooperate and work for the common good. We retreat into ever more privatized existences.

Of course, this is no startling revelation. Over the past 40 years, the shrinking sense of community across America has been widely discussed, and many proposals outlined about how to bring us back together.

One of the notable solutions being put into practice to combat this problem is New Urbanism, an architectural movement to build new communities (and revitalize existing ones) by maximizing opportunities for social exchange: public plazas, front porches, corner stores, coffee shops, neighborhood schools, narrow streets and, yes, sidewalks.

This line of thinking has transformed many communities, including my own World War I-era neighborhood in Minneapolis, which thankfully has sidewalks but was once bereft of the inviting public places that animate a community. Now I marvel at all the choices I have to mingle with the neighbors over a cappuccino, Pabst Blue Ribbon, juevos rancheros, artwork at a gallery opening or head of lettuce at the farmer’s market.

But while New Urbanism is making strides at the level of the neighborhood, we still spend most of our time at home, which today means seeing no one other than our nuclear family. How could we widen that circle just a bit? Not a ‘60s commune (“pass the brown rice, comrade, and don’t forget your shift cleaning the toilet ”), but good neighbors with whom we share more than a property line.

That’s an idea Seattle-area architect Ross Chapin has explored for many years, and now showcases in an inspiring and beautiful new book: Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating a Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World.

He believes that groupings of four to twelve households make an ideal community “where meaningful ‘neighborly’ relationships are fostered.” But even here, design shapes our destiny. Chapin explains that strong connections between neighbors develop most fully and organically when everyone shares some "common ground".

That can be a semi-private square, as in the pocket neighborhoods Chapin designed in the Seattle area. In the book’s bright photographs, they look like grassy patches of paradise, where kids scamper, flowers bloom, and neighbors stop to chat.

But Chapin points out these commons can take many different forms—an apartment building in Cambridge with a shared backyard, a group of neighbors in Oakland who tore down their backyard fences to create a commons, a block in Baltimore that turned their alley into a pubic commons, or the residential pedestrian streets found in Manhattan Beach, California, and all around Europe...'

Pocket Neighborhoods

Looks terrible - I think I'd rather stick with suburban sprawl...

Sourced from Pocke
t Neighborhoods, April 2011

'Pocket neighborhoods are clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around some sort of shared open space — a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley — all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship. They can be in urban, suburban or rural areas.

The fabric of social health in our society has been fraying, in part because many people lack networks of personal and social support. Family members can be spread across the country, friends live across town, and neighbors don’t know one another. A listening ear or helping hand is not available when it’s most needed.

Pocket neighborhoods can help mend a web of belonging, care and support. Their protected setting encourages informal interaction among neighbors, laying the ground for caring relationships. An elderly neighbor may need assistance trimming a hedge. Another needs help looking after the kids while going for a short errand, or feeding a cat while away on vacation. Nearby neighbors are the ones most available to respond to daily needs. They are also the ones to hear a story, admire a newly planted garden bed, or reminisce about old times. All of these encounters strengthen webs of support and friendship, which are the basis for healthy, livable communities.'

The Different Kinds of Ecosystem Services

Useful summary of Ecosystems Services

Reposted in full from The Bank of Natural Capital, 12 October 2010

'Ecosystem services are the direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. We can distinguish between provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services provided by ecosystems:

Provisioning Services are ecosystem services that describe the material or energy outputs from ecosystems. They include food, water and other resources.

Food: Ecosystems provide the conditions for growing food. Food comes principally from managed agro-ecosystems but marine and freshwater systems or forests also provide food for human consumption. Wild foods from forests are often underestimated.

Raw materials: Ecosystems provide a great diversity of materials for construction and fuel including wood, biofuels and plant oils that are directly derived from wild and cultivated plant species.

Fresh water: Ecosystems play a vital role in the global hydrological cycle, as they regulate the flow and purification of water. Vegetation and forests influence the quantity of water available locally.

Medicinal resources: Ecosystems and biodiversity provide many plants used as traditional medicines as well as providing the raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. All ecosystems are a potential source of medicinal resources.

Regulating Services are the services that ecosystems provide by acting as regulators eg. regulating the quality of air and soil or by providing flood and disease control.

Local climate and air quality: Trees provide shade whilst forests influence rainfall and water availability both locally and regionally. Trees or other plants also play an important role in regulating air quality by removing pollutants from the atmosphere.

Carbon sequestration and storage: Ecosystems regulate the global climate by storing and sequestering greenhouse gases. As trees and plants grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and effectively lock it away in their tissues. In this way forest ecosystems are carbon stores. Biodiversity also plays an important role by improving the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Moderation of extreme events: Extreme weather events or natural hazards include floods, storms, tsunamis, avalanches and landslides. Ecosystems and living organisms create buffers against natural disasters, thereby preventing possible damage. For example, wetlands can soak up flood water whilst trees can stabilize slopes. Coral reefs and mangroves help protect coastlines from storm damage.

Waste-water treatment: Ecosystems such as wetlands filter both human and animal waste and act as a natural buffer to the surrounding environment. Through the biological activity of microorganisms in the soil, most waste is broken down. Thereby pathogens (disease causing microbes) are eliminated, and the level of nutrients and pollution is reduced.

Erosion prevention and maintenance of soil fertility: Soil erosion is a key factor in the process of land degradation and desertification. Vegetation cover provides a vital regulating service by preventing soil erosion. Soil fertility is essential for plant growth and agriculture and well functioning ecosystems supply the soil with nutrients required to support plant growth.

Pollination: Insects and wind pollinate plants and trees which is essential for the development of fruits, vegetables and seeds. Animal pollination is an ecosystem service mainly provided by insects but also by some birds and bats. Some 87 out of the 115 leading global food crops depend upon animal pollination including important cash crops such as cocoa and coffee (Klein et al. 2007).

Biological control: Ecosystems are important for regulating pests and vector borne diseases that attack plants, animals and people. Ecosystems regulate pests and diseases through the activities of predators and parasites. Birds, bats, flies, wasps, frogs and fungi all act as natural controls.

Habitat or Supporting Services underpin almost all other services. Ecosystems provide living spaces for plants or animals; they also maintain a diversity of different breeds of plants and animals.

Habitats for species: Habitats provide everything that an individual plant or animal needs to survive: food; water; and shelter. Each ecosystem provides different habitats that can be essential for a species’ lifecycle. Migratory species including birds, fish, mammals and insects all depend upon different ecosystems during their movements.

Maintenance of genetic diversity: Genetic diversity is the variety of genes between and within species populations. Genetic diversity distinguishes different breeds or races from each other thus providing the basis for locally well-adapted cultivars and a gene pool for further developing commercial crops and livestock. Some habitats have an exceptionally high number of species which makes them more genetically diverse than others and are known as ‘biodiversity hotspots’.

Cultural Services include the non-material benefits people obtain from contact with ecosystems. They include aesthetic, spiritual and psychological benefits.

Recreation and mental and physical health: Walking and playing sports in green space is not only a good form of physical exercise but also lets people relax. The role that green space plays in maintaining mental and physical health is increasingly being recognized, despite difficulties of measurement.

Tourism: Ecosystems and biodiversity play an important role for many kinds of tourism which in turn provides considerable economic benefits and is a vital source of income for many countries. In 2008 global earnings from tourism summed up to US$ 944 billion. Cultural and eco-tourism can also educate people about the importance of biological diversity.

Aesthetic appreciation and inspiration for culture, art and design: Language, knowledge and the natural environment have been intimately related throughout human history. Biodiversity, ecosystems and natural landscapes have been the source of inspiration for much of our art, culture and increasingly for science.

Spiritual experience and sense of place: In many parts of the world natural features such as specific forests, caves or mountains are considered sacred or have a religious meaning. Nature is a common element of all major religions and traditional knowledge, and associated customs are important for creating a sense of belonging.'