Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are benefits (typically in relation to people) that stem from ecosystems. Thus, ecosystem services are often highlighted when some people ask: why is conservation important? (particularly in terms of conserving ecosystems)

These services are easily explained across 4 categories:

Regulation Services

Ecosystem process regulate many things which we benefit from.
Some examples:

  • Carbon storage and cycling (which also indirectly aids the regulation climate)
  • Decontamination of natural water systems
  • Regulation of pests

Provisioning Services

Products that are created within ecosystems, that can be harvested/used by humans.
Some examples:

  • Food, including seafood
  • Medicine
  • Wood
  • Energy (energy created from biomass is the most obvious example)
  • Shells, feathers and other tokens used for fashion, decoration or worship

Cultural Services

Non-material benefits.
Some examples:

  • Recreational benefits (eg. hiking in a beautiful forest)
  • Spiritual benefits and historical benefits (eg. heritage and beliefs that involve nature)
  • Cultural benefits (eg. the use of nature in artworks, books and other media)
  • Educational benefits (eg. scientific discovery, and inspiration to young learners)

Supporting Services

Processes that are needed to allow for ecosystems to provide other services.
Some examples:

  • Soil formation and maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling