Ecosystem services

Cultural services

The non-material benefits people obtain from an ecosystem.
  • Cultural diversity – the diversity of ecosystems is one factor influencing the diversity of cultures. This may include historical and cultural landscapes such as natural levees.
  • Spiritual and religious values – many religions attach spiritual and religious values to ecosystems or their components.
  • Educational values – ecosystems and their components and processes provide the basis for both formal and informal education in many societies.
  • Aesthetic values – many people find beauty or aesthetic value in various aspects of ecosystems, as reflected in the support for parks, “scenic drives,” and the selection of housing locations.
  • Social relations – ecosystems influence the types of social relations that are established in particular cultures. Fishing societies, for example, differ in many respects in their social relations from nomadic herding or agricultural societies.

  • Sense of place – many people value the “genius of the place” that is associated with recognized features of their environment, including aspects of the ecosystem.
  • Cultural heritage values – many societies put high value on the maintenance of either historically important landscapes (“cultural landscapes”) or culturally significant species.
  • Recreation and ecotourism – people often choose where to spend their leisure time based in part on the characteristics of the natural or cultivated landscapes in a particular area.
  • Inspiration – ecosystems provide a rich source of inspiration for art, folklore, national symbols, architecture, and advertising.