About Us
Project Overview
Case Studies
Markets for Ecosystem Services
Project Partners
Image Library
Contact Us

What are ecosystem services?

The billions of species on our planet, including humans, interact with one another in many ways. These interactions among and between species are what define ecosystems. Ecosystems in turn, provide many "services" from which humans benefit. Ecosystem services are the transformation of a set of natural assets (soil, plants and animals, air and water) into things that we value. For example, when fungi, worms and bacteria transform the raw "ingredients" of sunlight, carbon and nitrogen into fertile soil this transformation is an ecosystem service. However, if we allow natural assets to decline, so do the benefits. Conversely, if we look after and maintain our natural assets, we will benefit from greater returns.

Some other examples of ecosystem services that come from nature can be viewed in Chapter 7 of the Natural Assets Inventory Report. They include;

  • Pollination
  • Fulfillment of people's cultural spiritual and intellectual needs
  • Regulation of climate
  • Insect pest control
  • Maintenance and provision of genetic resources
  • Maintenance and regeneration of habitat
  • Provision of shade and shelter
  • Prevention of soil erosion
  • Maintenance of soil fertility
  • Maintenance of soil health
  • Maintenance of healthy waterways
  • Water filtration
  • Regulation of river flows and groundwater levels
  • Waste absorption and breakdown

Ecosystem services are little understood and too sophisticated for us to reproduce even with the most advanced technology, yet the important roles of these natural services are not being recognised adequately in economic markets, government policies or land management practices. As a result, ecosystems and the services they provide are in decline.

Return to top

Feedback What's New? Newsletter Site Map