Global trends in nature's contributions to people

Kate A. Brauman, Lucas A. Garibaldi, Stephen Polasky, Yildiz Aumeeruddy-Thomas, Pedro H.S. Brancalion, Fabrice DeClerck, Ute Jacob, Matias Enrique Mastrangelo, Nsalambi V. Nkongolo, Hannes Palang, Nestor Perez-Mendez, Lynne J. Shannon, Uttam Babu Shrestha, Evelyn Strombom, Madhu Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Declining biodiversity and ecosystem functions put many of nature's contributions to people at risk. We review and synthesize the scientific literature to assess 50-y global trends across a broad range of nature's contributions. We distinguish among trends in potential and realized contributions of nature, as well as environmental conditions and the impacts of changes in nature on human quality of life. We find declining trends in the potential for nature to contribute in the majority of material, nonmaterial, and regulating contributions assessed. However, while the realized production of regulating contributions has decreased, realized production of agricultural and many material commodities has increased. Environmental declines negatively affect quality of life, but social adaptation and the availability of substitutes partially offset this decline for some of nature's contributions. Adaptation and substitutes, however, are often imperfect and come at some cost. For many of the contributions of nature, we find differing trends across different countries and regions, income classes, and ethnic and social groups, reinforcing the argument for more consistent and equitable measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32799-32805
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 22 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Vanessa Sontag for assistance with figures. This work would not have been possible without the leadership of IPBES Global Assessment Co-Chairs Sandra Díaiz, Joesf Settele, and Eduardo Brondízi io; IPBES Chair Sir Robert Watson; and IPBES Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie. We particularly thank Hien T. Ngo and Maximilien Guèze at the IPBES Technical Support Unit for their unwavering support. We thank the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment for support to K.A.B., the Fesler-Lampert Professorship for support to S.P., and the South African Research Chair in Marine Ecology and Fisheries for support to L.J.S.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem services
  • Food systems
  • Indicators

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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