The landscapes that humanity has inhabited throughout our evolutionary history have met our needs and also substantially shaped our progress. We too have substantially shaped the landscape, atmosphere and waters of this resilient yet finite world, appropriating increasing proportions of the resources of nature to meet our shifting and growing demands whilst simultaneously degrading the quality and extent of ecosystems together with their capacities to meet the needs of a burgeoning population. Notwithstanding our total dependence on the Earth's natural resources, this relationship between humanity and the land has shifted significantly and frequently throughout our tenure, brief as it is relative to the evolution of planetary life. Common Ground explores the shifting relationship between human society and the landscapes that bear it. In so doing, it explores changing understandings of the natural world and its management and exploitation, presenting suggestions for solutions in the nature of ecosystem services.
'Common Ground' is a must-read for anyone concerned about the sustainability of the landscapes that support us. The book is based on the many societal benefits provided by ecosystems, exploring shifting perceptions of people's rights, priorities for land management and economic flows across landscapes, and suggesting a range of pragmatic implications for achieving sustainable 'living landscapes'. Insightful, engaging and extremely well researched, 'Common Ground' is an indispensible guide for academics, policy-makers and the concerned public. - Professor Jim Longhurst, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of the West of England 'We have inherited a pattern of land ownership, which has a feudal and more recently, a market-driven derivation. However, we are only now starting to recognise the full multifaceted value of services associated with land and the surrounding ecosystem. The process of recognition, quantification and economic valuation of ecosystem services has been rapidly refined as the environmental limits of the functionality of ecosystems becomes clearer and nearer. In some cases markets for the newly described ecosystem service commodities develop, normally where transaction costs are low and economic beneficiaries can be clearly identified. This could be a positive step but the question remains, how can market forces be regulated to ensure that the needs of society are met locally and globally and that the services with a very diffuse, often remote benefit and with no exploitable market value, like biodiversity, are not lost in fray? This is the job for those who govern in the coming years and Mark's text sets out the task at hand, its origins and the current status quo and he uses graphic case studies to annotate his discussion and give life the his amazing overview of the subject area.' - Dr Dylan Bright, Director, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Trustee, Association of Rivers Trusts. 'Few people have grasped the need for humanity to reconnect itself to the planet's landscape and natural resources more than Mark Everard, and this intuition is manifest throughout Common Ground. Ancient peoples relied totally on the Earth's resources for their existence, but modern society is largely oblivious to this dependence, being more concerned over land ownership and exploitation, and the political power that ensues, than valuing the crucial services provided by properly managed, sustainable ecosystems. Global decision makers should be made to read this book before it is too late!' - Paul Knight, CEO of the Salmon and Trout Association
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