Discussion Forum:

Valuing nature for development

Think about it!

Take a moment to reflect on how nature is interrelated with the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and use for crops, the medicines we use, and the safety of our communities. What are the connections?

Nature's role in your community:

How does nature provide essential ecosystem services in your community? Which ones are most important to the health and wellbeing of your community?

Putting nature at the heart of sustainable development:

How well are ecosystem services recognized and valued by your community? What would it take to put nature at the center of sustainable development in your context?

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Candice Guilaran

The important points to consider in providing ecosystem services is how the community accepts and adopts this system, because they will also be the instruments to sustain this in the future. It is necessary for them to appreciate and be aware to maintain the overall wellbeing and safety of the community.

Jeremy Donaire

I could not agree more with your opinion, definitely the degree of connection and knowledge that a community has about the ecosystems in which they live will be fundamental. Your comment is quite aligned with those mentioned by @Emily Michnowski .


Nudging and behavioral economics could provide some very interesting examples for community acceptance and for better embracing sustainable development. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, @Candice Guilaran.

Sahil Munjal

Nature fuels half of our world’s economy and helps us achieve half of the #SDG targets. Let’s ignite change by placing nature at the core of sustainable development. #NatureForLife


Indeed, let’s consider nature a bit more every day and let’s not forget about learning and improving our understanding every single day! Thank you for your active involvement @Sahil Munjal!

Emily Michnowski

One important role of nature in communities is the mental health benefits of having green spaces. Just spending time in nature can have numerous positive impacts on one’s mental health and is a good way for community members to recharge and be mindful. In Bethlehem, PA there is an organization called Reset Outdoors that runs programming outdoors for mental wellbeing. This is an important, passive service that the presence of any nature can serve a community.

Jeremy Donaire

Hi ! @Emily Michnowski , I think your comment is super accurate, do you know if the contribution of green areas and their influence on the mental state of the human being has been defined as an ecological service by any international institution and/or has been mentioned in any scientific study, it would be something really mind-blowing to read ? or anyone else ?

Andrea Pazos

Indeed @Jeremy Donaire , this is such an interesting topic. There is an study that goes deeper on this by finding out that, in a survey made in a kenyan community, it was identified that following the establishment of a Marine Protected Area (Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve), the locals perceived more benefits than disbenefits. These benefits were mostly related to the “subjective” well-being such as a “better health”, and the “ability to enjoy a clean and healthy creek and ocean”. If interested, the article is titled “Relationships between Livelihoods, Well-Being, and Marine Protected Areas: Evidence from a Community Survey, Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve, Kenya” by Harker et al (2022)

Last edited 8 months ago by Andrea Pazos Niño de Guzmán
Vinamra Mathur

A lot of the time, cultural and supporting services are overlooked as the ones contributing the most to health and wellbeing. It is important to note how maintaining traditional practices and ensuring a sense of belonging within the forests have a crucial role to play in the well-being of IPs and LCs. Within the indigenous tribes of Malaysian Borneo, such services are considered very important and an essential way of life, especially for the passing down of traditional knowledge.


Hello @Vinamra Mathur! Thank you for sharing this! Would you have any resources or recommended links for the example you’ve mentioned, on passing down of traditional knowledge for nature preservation and sustainable development? I personally believe behavioral aspects and cultures could be potentially very helpful in designing plans for a sustainable present and future.

Vinamra Mathur
Roger Watts

Exmoor Social Media and Popular Culture  

61. Currently, almost without exception, social media posts concerning Exmoor – including from the National Park Authority – is commercially driven.     It’s objective is to sell things,  or trying to persuade people to attend events or to attract visitors.   One might have imagined that within a protected area the emphasis would have been on what is being protected ie Nature or animals or birds or whatever?  There is virtually no posts about the state of nature within the national park. 

“Why do we talk more about how to explore me than about how to sustain me?
I am a protected area, which should mean something significant. Yet, I often feel like a museum whose exhibits are admired but whose maintenance is largely overlooked.” (Voice of Exmoor)

62. If one visits National Park Authority visitor centres or Heritage Centres in Exmoor National Park there is again almost no impartial commentary about the state of the things being protected?  If there are information boards they are becoming misleading eg the River Barle as an ideal river for salmon, when the BBC has carried reports about salmon disappearing in the Barle.

Virginia Scherer

@Roger Penagos , I agree it is vital for park systems to focus on educating people about the status of nature and ecosystems within parks. How do you think the NPA can pivot to focus more on sharing about the status of the park’s nature and its significance within your community rather than commercial aspects?

Roger Watts

Big important question for the U.K.! I’ve emailed a PDF paper that tries to answer at greater length!

Roger Watts

Within a National Park there are many contrary voices shouting for their preferred way forward! To give a flavour of the Voices on Exmoor: “Restore Nature Now: The Many Voices of Exmoor National Park

“I am Exmoor, the rolling moorlands and deep valleys you know and love. I ask for balance. A chance to heal. Space to breathe. Will you hear me? Will you act?” (Concept inspired by a collaboration with ChatGPT)

‍ The Farmer: “Let us farm today so you can eat tomorrow.”

The Tour Promoter: “Exmoor’s beauty is its best advertisement, let’s keep it that way.”

‍ The Young Resident: “Our future is here, help us build it.”

The Conservationist: “Conserve today, preserve forever.”

The Local Business Owner: “Support local businesses, sustain Exmoor.”

️ Local Politician: “We support local people.”

Game Bird Shooter: “I’ll do what I want on my own land.”

Affordable House Builder: “Home is where the heart is; let’s keep our hearts in Exmoor.”

Responsible Event Organiser: “Let’s make Exmoor a destination, not a commodity.”

️ Mrs. Landscape Institute: “Preserving beauty and history.”

️ Mr. Georgian Improver: “Balancing tradition and modernity.”

Commercial Voices: “Business and nature in harmony.”

️ Master National Parks Are for Outdoor Recreation, Wild Camping, and Fun: “Enjoy responsibly.”

Professor ‘Let’s Look at the Science’: “National Parks as Natural Capital assets.”

Sahil Munjal

I agree on parks

Andrea Pazos

I believe that the more diverse a country is, the more opportunities local communities have to enjoy different services. For example, in Peru we have several ecosystem services such as the supply of drinking water from natural reservoirs (the Andean highlands and tropical forests). It also has one of the largest fisheries due to the productivity of the sea, carbon sequestration by Peruvian forests and wetlands, etc..
However, I think there is still much to be done to foster recognition and value by local people and society…… Developing a sense of ownership could be a good start…

Virginia Scherer

@Andrea , this is a wonderful thought, do you have any suggestions for how to aid in developing a sense of ownership for communities that live within these ecosystems in Peru?

Jeremy Donaire

In Chile, it is basically based on the creation of new spaces with green areas. However, it has recently initiated a new process of wetland characterization, considering the high number of specimens. In spite of this, I believe that their ecosystem services are still not so well described, let alone made aware at the community level.

Virginia Scherer

@Jeremy Raguain , how did you learn about the wetland characterization services and what do you think can be done to make their efforts more apparent at the community level?

Jeremy Donaire

I learned about the ecological services that a wetland can provide through my master’s thesis, where I had the opportunity to investigate how wetlands are able to capture pollutants from river water. In answer to your other question, I think the essential thing is to raise awareness of ecosystems at the educational level. Teaching about ecological services to children will be fundamental for new generations to acquire this degree of awareness.

Biniam Belete Begna

Nature based solutions to tackle environmental problems which could affect food safety, water quality…can be considered as a reflection of the interrelation of nature with food, water, and safety of our communities