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Abstract

We review the development of macroenvironmental indicators, an effort driven by a combination of improved understanding of the functioning of Earth's natural systems at large spatial and temporal scales and of increasing demands by an expanding human population for goods and services provided by ecosystems. To be credible, macroenvironmental indicators need to be based on established scientific concepts and supported by extensive data. To be adopted, they need to serve the interests of diverse stakeholders and be perceived as unbiased. The baselines against which they are evaluated must be clear. A modest number of macroindicators of abiotic natural capital, biotic natural capital, and ecological functioning are currently in use. Some of them are designed to report on trends in legislatively mandated goals and standards. Most environmental indicators, however, report on specific components of the environment at small scales. They are not readily aggregated to form synthetic macroenvironmental indicators.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.environ.020608.151439
2009-11-21
2024-06-22
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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.environ.020608.151439
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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