Ecosystem services

Definition

Benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, and disease; supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and cultural services such as recreational, spiritual, religious and other non-material benefits.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 1

Note: Several other definitions and classifications of ecosystem services have been developed since publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (See Other Definitions). 

Other definitions

  • CICES (Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services), (2018) 2

Ecosystem services are defined as the contributions that ecosystems make to human well-being, and distinct from the goods and benefits that people subsequently derive from them. Services are grouped into three sections: Provisioning; Regulation and Maintenance; and Cultural.

  • IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), 2019 3

Adopts the classification system used under nature‚Äôs contributions to people (NCP) in recognition that many services fit into more than one of the four categories used in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, for example food may be both a provisioning service and a cultural service. 

References & Websites