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On October 6, 2021, the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management (LDEM) at AUB hosted online a group of 50 people from 19 institutions to introduce the Lebanon National Network that will be formed as part of the global
Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The network will include academics, students, practitioners, and activists who explore and explain the benefits of nature to guide sustainable development in Lebanon.
Zuzana Harmáčková, co-chair of the ESP Steering Committee, presented an overview of the global network, its objectives, and explained how its 3,000 scientists, policymakers, and practitioners work together to enhance the application of ecosystem services for nature conservation, ecosystem restoration, and sustainable management. Salma N. Talhouk, professor in LDEM and lead member of the national network in Lebanon, announced its launching and presented information and examples about the structure of the network and possible activities.
Talhouk explained to the attendees that ecosystem services are the numerous ways in which nature is valuable, and people from various disciplines and expertise need to work together to value nature's assets.
Ecosystem services are divided into four main categories. The first is provisioning services, through which nature provides people with products including food, drinking water, wood fuel, natural gas, industrial plants, and medicinal plants. Second, regulating services, where nature delivers services to support human life such as cleaning air, filtering water, decomposing waste, pollinating crops, preventing erosion, and regulating climate. Third is cultural services through which nature contributes to a sense of place offering recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, physical and mental health benefits, and spiritual experiences. And finally, supporting services where natural processes are essential to sustain basic life forms; these include photosynthesis, the water cycle, soil formation, and biodiversity.