MONTREUX, — Ecosystem degradation, caused by global warming or direct human action, has the potential to severely disrupt businesses or provide beneficial opportunities, according to a new report.

In "The Corporate Ecosystem Services Review: Guidelines for Identifying Business Risks and Opportunities Arising from Ecosystem Change", three organizations explain the positive and negative aspects of changes in forests, wetlands, oceans and other ecosystems.

The paper provides a series of guidelines to help businesses figure out how they interact with ecosystems and what their options are. The World Resources Institute, Meridian Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development worked together on the guidelines and enlisted five businesses to try them out, supplying case studies from them throughout the report.

The guidelines look at how businesses could be hurt by or benefit from their own actions as well as what others do. A business that relies on natural resources, such as a lumber company, should take action to avoid stripping the earth of the resource it relies on. In the case of forestry, companies can adopt sustainable harvesting methods and preserve certain habitats, among other options. Businesses that create or sell paper-based products can seek out certified sustainable wood for their products, potentially drawing customers from companies that use virgin wood.

The Corporate Ecosystem Services Review also warns that as more ecosystems change, more government regulation, fines or fees could come into play, and it would be in a company's best interest to work with governments on preserving ecosystems.

Each business related to a certain ecosystem could have different levels of dependence on it, and the guidelines are designed to show a business how to figure out where its priorities lie, look at and analyze trends, figure out their risks and opportunities, lay out strategies and take action.