Ecosystem services


Abstract: Ecosystem services describe the benefits that humans can derive from healthy ecosystems, such as food, water purification and flood control
Landscapes: Sandy coasts, Rivers & Estuaries
Technological readiness level: 7 (system in use, experience to be gained)
Key words: Ecosystem services, natural resources, food, climate regulation, ecosystem health

Humans have always benefited from a wide range of resources and functions provided by natural ecosystems. Such natural benefits, which may be provided as goods (e.g. fish, gravel) or services (e.g., clean water provision), are collectively known as ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services are defined as ‘the benefits people derive from ecosystems’ (MEA, 2003).

Services are not only life-support services, but also life-fulfilling services. Examples of life-support services are filtration and delivery of water, absorption of wastes, maintenance of atmosphere and climate within limits suitable for human life, maintenance of soil fertility and structure, protection from floods and other natural hazards, and maintenance of habitat and biodiversity. Examples of life-fulfilling services are provision of cultural, spiritual and intellectual stimulation and maintenance of other species for their existence value.

Ecosystem services are divided into four categories; production services, regulating services, cultural services and supporting services (MEA, 2003).