In some cases economic development can occur to the detriment of informal but nevertheless valuable economic activities. For instance, the commercial use of forests is often to the detriment of harvesting non-timber forest resources, ranging from firewood to traditional food sources. In these cases, the resulting economic growth as formally measured, for instance from a shift to timber harvesting, may not just be socially unjust, gender-biased and harmful to indigenous peoples and local communities, but would also be an illusion, due to the loss of non-timber forest resources.
That GDP has shortcomings as a measurement of human well-being is widely acknowledged by economists. Many of these shortcomings are related to the lack of environmental indicators that account for associated benefits to human health, food and water security, and the economy.
Healthy ecosystems provide services that have, in many cases, significant, measurable economic value. For instance, more than three-quarters of the leading global food crops rely on insect or animal pollination. Between 5-8% of global crop production, with an annual market value between $235 and $577 billion, is directly attributable to natural pollination. However, pollinators are under threat, and this can be expected to lead to significant economic losses.