Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere - WBGU

432 M Glossary

the ecosystems in a region with their interlinkages

and biogeochemical fluxes, and safeguards close

feedback between measures and their impacts. As a

result of the clarity of the bioregion and the close link

between the local population and policies, conflicts of

interest can be better solved on the ground.

Bioregional management strives, through use of a

range of instruments and involvement of relevant

groups and institutions, to develop and implement a

gradated conservation and usage concept for the biological

resources of a bioregion (Section E 3.9.2). A

zoning concept, the networking and involvement of

relevant players, the consideration of sustainability

rules for intensively-used land, ➥ adaptive management

and capacity building are key elements of this


Biosafety (or ‘safety of biotechnology’) refers to

strategies for managing the risks posed by biotechnology,

especially the transmission, handling and use

of genetically modified organisms (Section D 3.2).

The release into the wild of transgenic plants and

their uncontrolled spread, and any negative secondary

effects in natural ecosystems and in foods are

examples of such risks. These risks are characterized

by high levels of uncertainty with regard to the probability

of their occurrence and the extent of damage

as well as with regard to the certainty of assessment

of these two parameters. Negotiations on an international

agreement on this issue are currently on-going

(Biosafety Protocol to the ➥ Biodiversity Convention).

Biosphere is the area of the Earth occupied by life,

from the inhabited layer of the Earth’s crust (including

the seas and oceans) right up to the lower layer of

the atmosphere.The biosphere forms a global ecosystem

almost exclusively driven by solar energy, made

up of organisms and that part of non-living material

that interacts with the organisms. It is characterized

by complex, worldwide biogeochemical cycles.

People (and their economic activities) as living creatures

are also components of the biosphere. The biosphere

is closely functionally interlinked with the

atmosphere, pedosphere and hydrosphere.

Biosphere values (or ‘values of biological diversity’)

are the various value categories that are fundamental

for a ➥ valuation of biosphere services, for

example (Section H 5.4). The Council makes a broad

distinction between five value categories:

1. Functional value, ie the varied ➥ ecosystem services

that the biosphere performs for humans (eg

biogeochemical cycles, flood control, soil protection);

2. Economic use value, ie the ecosystem services for

production or consumption purposes (eg food,

wood, recreation, the experience of nature);

3. Symbolic value, ie an aesthetic, religious or other

culturally inspired assignment of meaning to natural

phenomena (eg holy trees, heraldic animals);

4. Existence value, ie the benefit arising from the

sheer knowledge of the existence or conservation

of biological diversity without it being used personally;

5. Option value, ie the possibility of a future realization

of a value of the four other categories (eg possible

benefit of a ➥ genetic resource for medicine

in the future).

Core problems of global change are, in the ➥ syndrome

concept, the central phenomena of global

change. They appear there either as particularly significant

➥ trends of global change, such as humaninduced

climate change, or they comprise several

interrelated trends. One such ‘megatrend’ is the core

problem of ‘soil degradation’, which comprises several

trends such as erosion, salinization, contamination,


Criticality index is a composite indicator that can

measure the vulnerability of a region or the population

that lives there to crises – here environmental or

development crises in particular.

Debt swaps refer to the ‘exchange’ of debt titles

(usually in developing countries) for certain actions,

such as a certain environmental policy (debt-fornature

swaps) or a certain food security policy (debtfor-food-security

swaps). The form that these transactions

take depends on the type of debts. In the case

of debts to foreign banks, for example, the debt-fornature

swaps open up opportunities to simultaneously

score successes against the debt crisis and for

environmental protection.

Disposition in the ➥ syndrome concept refers to

the susceptibility of a region to a certain syndrome.

The ‘disposition area’ refers to the geographical distribution

of the disposition; it is determined by natural

and anthropogenic framework conditions that

change only in the long term.

Ecosystem means a causal web of biotic communities

and their abiotic environment as a recognizable,

spatially separate entity. The basic ecological

components are the producers (usually green plants,

but also microorganisms), consumers (animals and

microorganisms that feed on organic matter) and

decomposers (microorganisms and animals that

decompose organic matter). They are connected to

each other by means of food chains and webs,

through which the energy absorbed by the producers

is transferred. Another key feature of ecosystems is

the conversion of nutrients and other substances in

biogeochemical cycles.

Ecosystem approach is a fundamental concept for

the implementation of the Convention on Biological

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