Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (7): 766-774.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018020

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Biodiversity and ecosystem services: Towards ecological security in tropical and subtropical East Asia

Richard Corlett*()   

  1. Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
  • Received:2018-01-21 Accepted:2018-05-08 Online:2018-07-20 Published:2018-09-11
  • Contact: Corlett Richard
  • About author:# Co-first authors


Tropical and subtropical East Asia supports around 15-25% of global terrestrial biodiversity. This is now threatened in many areas by rapid economic development. Achieving development that is compatible with biodiversity conservation requires that the benefits of nature to people, to society, and to the economy are understood and correctly valued. These benefits are known as ecosystem services and have been classified in various ways. Most ecosystem services depend on wild species and ecosystems for their production, although there is often no simple relationship between their quality and quantity and the diversity of wild species. There have been many assessments of ecosystem services at the national scale, but these are necessarily very simplified, usually focusing on a few, easily quantified, services. As a result, they often fail to include the services which are of most importance to local people and can therefore lead to incorrect policy decisions. Ecosystem services are derived from natural capital, which is the total stock of natural resources, so if this capital is depleted the services it can produce decline. Ecological security is achieved by preserving or restoring the critical natural capital needed to maintain vital ecosystem services in the region. Although there have been recent improvements in some ecosystem services in China, the overall trends in most services in tropical and subtropical East Asia are negative. Achieving regional ecological security in a human-dominated world will require action at the global, regional, national, and local levels.

Key words: biodiversity, ecosystem services, natural capital, ecological security, ecological civilization