It is with great sadness that we share the news that on March 25 Leon Braat, the founding Editor-in-Chief of ‘Ecosystem Services’, passed away after a short but unstoppable illness. ‘We’ in this case are his fellow-editors and involved staff at Elsevier. Many were not only colleagues but also close friends with Leon for many years.
Leon was one of the few economists who recognized early that if we are to save the incredible diversity of life on this planet, we need fundamental changes in our economic system. Sentiments and ethics alone are, clearly and unfortunately, not enough to stop the ongoing destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. Leon pioneered already in the 1970’s with the notion of ecosystem functions (later evolving into the concept of ecosystem services) as a tool to ‘ecologize’ economics. After a long career in the field, it was only natural that he became the first Editor-in-Chief of ‘Ecosystem Services’ (ECOSER) in 2011. With his in-depth insights, great experience and strong commitment he quickly turned ECOSER into one of the top-journals in the field.
A landmark in Leon´s long-term efforts was seen when less than two weeks before his death, the UN Statistical Commission accepted to expand the SEEA (System of Environmental Economic Accounting) with the notion of ecosystem services to move beyond the commonly used statistics of calculating GDP. This is a big step towards embedding the importance of nature more structurally in economic decision making and bend the curve towards a more inherently sustainable, and just society.
The Ecosystem Services community lost one of its champions of the first hour but his legacy will live on through the Journal and many other smaller and bigger seeds of ‘sustainability-thinking’ he sowed.
He will be remembered by all of us as a very special person who was quite direct and outspoken in his opinion, which was sometimes not easy for those he disagreed with (often for good reasons) but he was always honest, fair-minded and with a good sense of humour. That same directness helped and inspired people, ideas, and thoughts he believed in. Many found a wonderful mentor and sparring partner in Leon.
I personally will always remember him as a good friend who always had a listening ear and good advice. Together we enjoyed the positive ‘externalities’ of conferences organised by the Ecosystem Services Partnership that provided time for making plans during fieldtrips and late-evening conversations. I was looking forward to having more time to share good memories with him after my own retirement.
We will all dearly miss him and we wish Marie-Anne, his wife, his (grand) children and family much strength to deal with this unexpected and much too early loss.
Dolf de Groot (current Editor-in-Chief), on behalf of all current and previous Associate Editors (Patricia Balvanera, Luke Brander, Bob Costanza, Terry Daniel, Josh Farley, Eeva Furman, Andrea Ghermandi, Bernd Hansjürgens, Luis Inostroza, Jasper Kenter, Nicolas Kosoy, Beria Leimona, Laura Nahuelhual, Paolo Nunes, David Odee, Marta Perez-Soba, Roy Remme, Uta Schirpke, Lea Tardieu, Marjan vd Belt, Eeva Primmer, Wieteke Willemen) and Sandra Broerse (Publisher), Mark Anthony (Journal Manager) and the support staff at Elsevier.