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Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits to humans provided by the natural environment and from healthy
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
. Such ecosystems include, for example,
agroecosystem Agroecosystem in Croton-on-Hudson, New York in Westchester County. Intercropped tomatoes, basil, peppers and eggplants.">Intercropped.html" ;"title="Westchester County. Intercropped">Westchester County. Intercropped tomatoes, basil, peppers and eg ...
s,
forest ecosystem in Queensland, Australia Forest ecology is the scientific study of the interrelated patterns, processes, flora, fauna and ecosystems in forests. The management of forests is known as forestry, silviculture, and forest management. A forest ecosys ...
s, grassland ecosystems and
aquatic ecosystem An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem in a body of water. Biocoenosis, Communities of biota (ecology), organisms that are dependent on each other and on their environment live in aquatic ecosystems. The two main types of aquatic ecosystems are ma ...

aquatic ecosystem
s. These ecosystems, functioning in healthy relationship, offer such things like natural pollination of crops, clean air, extreme weather mitigation, and human mental and physical well-being. Collectively, these benefits are becoming known as 'ecosystem services', and are often integral to the provisioning of clean
drinking water Drinking water, also known as potable water, is water that is safe to drinking, drink or use for food preparation. The amount of drinking water required to maintain good health varies, and depends on physical activity level, age, health-related ...

drinking water
, the
decomposition Decomposition is the process by which dead organic substance , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds co ...
of wastes, and resilience and productivity of food ecosystems. While scientists and
environmentalists Image:Voynet Montreuil 2008-01-06.jpg, Dominique Voynet, 2008 An environmentalist is a person who is concerned with and/or advocates for the protection of the environment. An environmentalist can be considered a supporter of the goals of the envir ...
have discussed ecosystem services implicitly for decades, the
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a major assessment of the human impact on the environment, called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, launched in 2001 and published in 2005 with more than $14 million of gra ...
(MA) in the early 2000s popularized this concept.Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis .
Island Press Island Press is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social benefit, in c ...
, Washington. 155pp.
There, ecosystem services are grouped into four broad categories: ''provisioning'', such as the production of food and water; ''regulating'', such as the control of climate and disease; ''supporting'', such as
nutrient cycles A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic and inorganic In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms ...
and
oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

oxygen
production; and ''cultural'', such as spiritual and recreational benefits. To help inform decision-makers, many ecosystem services are being valuated in order to draw equivalent comparisons to human engineered infrastructure and services.
Estuarine An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water Brackish water, also sometimes termed brack water, is water occurring in a natural environment having more salinity File:IAPSO Standard Seawater.jpg, upInternational Associatio ...

Estuarine
and coastal ecosystems are both
marine ecosystems Marine ecosystems are the largest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is one of several ...
. Together, these ecosystems perform the four categories of ecosystem services in a variety of ways: "Regulating services" include climate regulation as well as
waste treatmentWaste treatment refers to the activities required to ensure that waste Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product b ...
and disease regulation and buffer zones. The "provisioning services" include forest products, marine products,
fresh water Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in ...

fresh water
, raw materials, biochemical and genetic resources. "Cultural services" of coastal ecosystems include inspirational aspects,
recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is spent away from , , , , and , as well as necessary activities such as and ing. Leisure as an experience usuall ...

recreation
and
tourism Tourism is travel Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical location In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...

tourism
, science and education. "Supporting services" of coastal ecosystems include
nutrient cycling A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Org ...

nutrient cycling
, biologically mediated habitats and
primary production In ecology, primary production is the synthesis of organic compounds from atmospheric or aqueous carbon dioxide. It principally occurs through the process of photosynthesis, which uses light as its source of energy, but it also occurs through ch ...
.


Definition

Ecosystem services are defined as the gains acquired by humankind from surroundings
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...

ecosystems
. Per the 2006
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a major assessment of the human impact on the environment, called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, launched in 2001 and published in 2005 with more than $14 million of gra ...
(MA), ecosystem services are "the benefits people obtain from ecosystems". The MA also delineated the four categories of ecosystem services—supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural—discussed below. By 2010, there had evolved various working definitions and descriptions of ecosystem services in the literature. To prevent double counting in ecosystem services audits, for instance,
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity framed The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) was a study led by Pavan Sukhdev from 2007 to 2011. It is an international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological va ...
(TEEB) replaced "Supporting Services" in the MA with "Habitat Services" and "ecosystem functions", defined as "a subset of the interactions between ecosystem structure and processes that underpin the capacity of an ecosystem to provide goods and services".


Categories

Four different types of ecosystem services have been distinguished by the scientific body: regulating services, provisioning services, cultural services and supporting services. An ecosystem does not necessarily offer all four types of services simultaneously; but given the intricate nature of any ecosystem, it is usually assumed that humans benefit from a combination of these services. The services offered by diverse types of ecosystems (forests, seas, coral reefs, mangroves, etc.) differ in nature and in consequence. In fact, some services directly affect the livelihood of neighboring human populations (such as fresh water, food or aesthetic value, etc.) while other services affect general environmental conditions by which humans are indirectly impacted (such as
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
,
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
regulation or
natural hazard A natural hazard is a natural phenomenon Types of natural phenomena include: Weather, fog, thunder, tornadoes; biological processes, decomposition, germination seedlings, three days after germination. Germination is the process by which ...
regulation, etc.). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report 2005 defined ecosystem services as benefits people obtain from ecosystems and distinguishes four categories of ecosystem services, where the so-called supporting services are regarded as the basis for the services of the other three categories.


Regulating services

* Purification of
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known li ...
and
air The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (ph ...

air
* Carbon sequestration and
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...

climate
regulation * Waste
decomposition Decomposition is the process by which dead organic substance , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds co ...
and detoxification *
Predation Predation is a biological interaction In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical en ...

Predation
regulates prey populations * Biological control
pest Pest or The Pest may refer to: Science and medicine * Pest (organism), an animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns ** Weed, a plant considered undesirable * Infectious disease, an illness resulting from an infection ** Plague (diseas ...
and
disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interactin ...
control *
Pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen Pollen is a powdery substance consisting of pollen grains which are Sporophyte, microsporophytes of spermatophyta, seed plants, which produce male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat ...

Pollination
* Disturbance regulation, i.e. Flood protection


Provisioning services

The following services are also known as ''ecosystem goods'': * food (including
seafood Seafood is any form of sea life regarded as food by humans, prominently including fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. ...

seafood
and
game A game is a structured form of play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content serv ...
), crops, wild foods, and
spice A spice is a seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was releas ...

spice
s * raw materials (including lumber, skins, fuel wood, organic matter, fodder, and fertilizer) * genetic resources (including crop improvement genes, and health care) * biogenic minerals * (including pharmaceuticals, chemical models, and test and assay organisms) *
energy In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regula ...

energy
(
hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and th ...
, ) * ornamental resources (including fashion, handicraft, jewelry, pets, worship, decoration and souvenirs like furs, feathers, ivory, orchids, butterflies, aquarium fish, shells, etc.)


Cultural services

* cultural (including use of nature as motif in books, film, painting, folklore, national symbols, advertising, etc.) * spiritual and historical (including use of nature for religious or heritage value or natural) *
recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is spent away from , , , , and , as well as necessary activities such as and ing. Leisure as an experience usuall ...

recreation
al experiences (including
ecotourism Ecotourism is a form of tourism at the archaeological site of Chichén Itza. in Vienna. Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring (disambiguation), touring, the business of attracting, accommodating ...
, outdoor sports, and recreation) * science and education (including use of natural systems for school excursions, and
scientific discovery Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to sciences Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic br ...
) * Therapeutic (including Ecotherapy, social forestry and animal assisted therapy) As of 2012, there was a discussion as to how the concept of cultural ecosystem services could be operationalized, how landscape aesthetics, cultural heritage, outdoor recreation, and spiritual significance to define can fit into the ecosystem services approach. who vote for models that explicitly link ecological structures and functions with cultural values and benefits. Likewise, there has been a fundamental critique of the concept of cultural ecosystem services that builds on three arguments: # Pivotal cultural values attaching to the natural/cultivated environment rely on an area's unique character that cannot be addressed by methods that use universal scientific parameters to determine ecological structures and functions. # If a natural/cultivated environment has symbolic meanings and cultural values the object of these values are not ecosystems but shaped phenomena like mountains, lakes, forests, and, mainly, symbolic landscapes. # Cultural values do result not from properties produced by ecosystems but are the product of a specific way of seeing within the given cultural framework of symbolic experience. The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) is a classification scheme developed to accounting systems (like National counts etc.), in order to avoid double-counting of Supporting Services with others Provisioning and Regulating Services.


Supporting services

These may be redundant with regulating services in some categorisations, but include services such as, but not limited to,
nutrient cycling A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Org ...

nutrient cycling
,
primary production In ecology, primary production is the synthesis of organic compounds from atmospheric or aqueous carbon dioxide. It principally occurs through the process of photosynthesis, which uses light as its source of energy, but it also occurs through ch ...
,
soil formation Pedogenesis (from the Greek ''pedo''-, or ''pedon'', meaning 'soil, earth,' and ''genesis'', meaning 'origin, birth') (also termed soil development, soil evolution, soil formation, and soil genesis) is the process of soil formation as regulated b ...

soil formation
,
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...

habitat
provision. These services make it possible for the ecosystems to continue providing services such as food supply, flood regulation, and water purification. Slade et al. outline the situation where a greater number of species would maximize more ecosystem services


Ecology

Understanding of ecosystem services requires a strong foundation in
ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
, which describes the underlying principles and interactions of organisms and the
environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism or ...

environment
. Since the scales at which these entities interact can vary from
microbes A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical process ...
to
landscapes A landscape is the visible features of an area of land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agric ...

landscapes
, milliseconds to millions of years, one of the greatest remaining challenges is the descriptive characterization of energy and material flow between them. For example, the area of a forest floor, the
detritus In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms ...

detritus
upon it, the microorganisms in the soil, and characteristics of the soil itself will all contribute to the abilities of that forest for providing ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, water purification, and
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
prevention to other areas within the watershed. Note that it is often possible for multiple services to be bundled together and when benefits of targeted objectives are secured, there may also be ancillary benefits—the same forest may provide
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...

habitat
for other organisms as well as human recreation, which are also ecosystem services. The complexity of Earth's ecosystems poses a challenge for scientists as they try to understand how relationships are interwoven among organisms, processes and their surroundings. As it relates to human ecology, a suggested research agenda for the study of ecosystem services includes the following steps: # identification of ''ecosystem service providers'' (''ESP''s)—
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
or populations that provide specific ecosystem services—and characterization of their functional roles and relationships; # determination of community structure aspects that influence how ESPs function in their
natural landscape A natural landscape is the original landscape that exists before it is acted upon by human culture. The natural landscape and the cultural landscape are separate parts of the landscape. However, in the 21st century, landscapes that are totally u ...

natural landscape
, such as compensatory responses that stabilize function and non-random extinction sequences which can erode it; # assessment of key environmental (abiotic) factors influencing the provision of services; # measurement of the spatial and temporal scales ESPs and their services operate on. Recently, a technique has been developed to improve and standardize the evaluation of ESP functionality by quantifying the relative importance of different species in terms of their efficiency and abundance. Such parameters provide indications of how species respond to changes in the environment (i.e. predators, resource availability, climate) and are useful for identifying species that are disproportionately important at providing ecosystem services. However, a critical drawback is that the technique does not account for the effects of interactions, which are often both complex and fundamental in maintaining an ecosystem and can involve species that are not readily detected as a priority. Even so, estimating the functional structure of an ecosystem and combining it with information about individual species traits can help us understand the
resilience Resilience, resilient, resiliency, or ''variation'', may refer to: Science Ecology * Ecological resilience In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering ...
of an ecosystem amidst environmental change. Many ecologists also believe that the provision of ecosystem services can be stabilized with
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
. Increasing biodiversity also benefits the variety of ecosystem services available to society. Understanding the relationship between biodiversity and an ecosystem's stability is essential to the management of natural resources and their services.


Redundancy hypothesis

The concept of ecological redundancy is sometimes referred to as ''functional compensation'' and assumes that more than one species performs a given role within an ecosystem. More specifically, it is characterized by a particular species increasing its efficiency at providing a service when conditions are stressed in order to maintain aggregate stability in the ecosystem. However, such increased dependence on a compensating species places additional stress on the ecosystem and often enhances its susceptibility to subsequent disturbance. The redundancy hypothesis can be summarized as "species redundancy enhances ecosystem resilience". Another idea uses the analogy of rivets in an airplane wing to compare the exponential effect the loss of each species will have on the function of an ecosystem; this is sometimes referred to as ''rivet popping''. If only one species disappears, the loss of the ecosystem's efficiency as a whole is relatively small; however, if several species are lost, the system essentially collapses—similar to an airplane that lost too many rivets. The hypothesis assumes that species are relatively specialized in their roles and that their ability to compensate for one another is less than in the redundancy hypothesis. As a result, the loss of any species is critical to the performance of the ecosystem. The key difference is the rate at which the loss of species affects total ecosystem functioning.


Portfolio effect

A third explanation, known as the ''portfolio effect'', compares biodiversity to stock holdings, where diversification minimizes the volatility of the investment, or in this case, the risk of instability of ecosystem services. This is related to the idea of ''response diversity'' where a suite of species will exhibit differential responses to a given environmental perturbation. When considered together, they create a stabilizing function that preserves the integrity of a service. Several experiments have tested these hypotheses in both the field and the lab. In ECOTRON, a laboratory in the UK where many of the
biotic Biotics describe living or once living components of a community; for example organisms, such as animals and plants. Biotic may refer to: *Life, the condition of living organisms *Biology, the study of life *Biotic material, which is derived from l ...
and abiotic factors of nature can be simulated, studies have focused on the effects of
earthworms An earthworm is a terrestrial invertebrate that belongs to the phylum Annelida. They exhibit a tube-within-a-tube body plan A body plan, ''Bauplan'' (German plural ''Baupläne''), or ground plan is a set of morphological features common to man ...
and
symbiotic bacteria Symbiotic bacteria are bacteria living in symbiosis Symbiosis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country l ...
on plant roots. These laboratory experiments seem to favor the rivet hypothesis. However, a study on grasslands at Cedar Creek Reserve in Minnesota supports the redundancy hypothesis, as have many other field studies.


Estuarine and coastal ecosystem services

Estuarine An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water Brackish water, also sometimes termed brack water, is water occurring in a natural environment having more salinity File:IAPSO Standard Seawater.jpg, upInternational Associatio ...

Estuarine
and coastal ecosystems are both
marine ecosystems Marine ecosystems are the largest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is one of several ...
. Together, these ecosystems perform the four categories of ecosystem services in a variety of ways: "Regulating services" include climate regulation as well as
waste treatmentWaste treatment refers to the activities required to ensure that waste Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product b ...
and disease regulation and buffer zones. The "provisioning services" include forest products, marine products,
fresh water Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's and the s of all known living organisms (in ...

fresh water
, raw materials, biochemical and genetic resources. "Cultural services" of coastal ecosystems include inspirational aspects,
recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is spent away from , , , , and , as well as necessary activities such as and ing. Leisure as an experience usuall ...

recreation
and
tourism Tourism is travel Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical location In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...

tourism
, science and education. "Supporting services" of coastal ecosystems include
nutrient cycling A nutrient cycle (or ecological recycling) is the movement and exchange of organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Org ...

nutrient cycling
, biologically mediated habitats and
primary production In ecology, primary production is the synthesis of organic compounds from atmospheric or aqueous carbon dioxide. It principally occurs through the process of photosynthesis, which uses light as its source of energy, but it also occurs through ch ...
. Coasts and their adjacent areas on and offshore are an important part of a local ecosystem. The mixture of fresh water and
salt water Saline water (more commonly known as salt water) is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the ...

salt water
(
brackish water Brackish water, also sometimes termed brack water, is water occurring in a natural environment having more salinity Salinity () is the saltiness or amount of dissolved in a body of , called (see also ). It is usually measured in g/L or g/kg ...
) in estuaries provides many nutrients for
marine life Marine life, sea life, or ocean life is the plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, thr ...

marine life
.
Salt marshes A salt marsh or saltmarsh, also known as a coastal salt marsh or a tidal marsh, is a coastal ecosystem in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and open saltwater or brackish water that is regularly flooded by the tides. It is domina ...

Salt marshes
,
mangroves A mangrove is a shrub A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Pl ...

mangroves
and
beaches A beach is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning t ...

beaches
also support a diversity of plants, animals and insects crucial to the
food chain A food chain is a linear network of links in a food web A food web is the natural interconnection of food chains and a graphical representation of what-eats-what in an ecological community. Another name for food web is Consumer-resource sy ...

food chain
. The high level of
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
creates a high level of biological activity, which has attracted human activity for thousands of years. Coasts also create essential material for organisms to live by, including estuaries,
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
,
seagrass Seagrasses are the only flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anyt ...

seagrass
,
coral reefs ''Coral Reefs'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal dedicated to the study of coral reefs. It was established in 1982 and is published by Springer Science+Business Media on behalf of the International Society for Reef Studies, of which ...

coral reefs
, and mangroves. Coasts provide habitats for
migratory birds Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway, between breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class ...
, sea turtles, marine mammals, and coral reefs.


Regulating services

Regulating services are the "benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes". In the case of coastal and estuarine ecosystems, these services include climate regulation, waste treatment and disease control and natural hazard regulation.


Climate regulation

Both the biotic and abiotic ensembles of marine ecosystems play a role in climate regulation. They act as sponges when it comes to gases in the atmosphere, retaining large levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide). Marine plants also use CO2 for photosynthesis purposes and help in reducing the atmospheric CO2. The oceans and seas absorb the heat from the atmosphere and redistribute it through the means of water currents, and atmospheric processes, such as evaporation and the reflection of light allow for the cooling and warming of the overlying atmosphere. The ocean temperatures are thus imperative to the regulation of the atmospheric temperatures in any part of the world: "without the ocean, the Earth would be unbearably hot during the daylight hours and frigidly cold, if not frozen, at night".


Waste treatment and disease regulation

Another service offered by marine ecosystem is the treatment of wastes, thus helping in the regulation of diseases. Wastes can be diluted and detoxified through transport across marine ecosystems; pollutants are removed from the environment and stored, buried or recycled in marine ecosystems: "Marine ecosystems break down organic waste through microbial communities that filter water, reduce/limit the effects of eutrophication, and break down toxic hydrocarbons into their basic components such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphorus, and water". The fact that waste is diluted with large volumes of water and moves with water currents leads to the regulation of diseases and the reduction of toxics in seafood.


Buffer zones

Coastal and estuarine ecosystems act as buffer zones against natural hazards and environmental disturbances, such as floods, cyclones, tidal surges and storms. The role they play is to " bsorba portion of the impact and thus
essen Essen (; Latin: ''Assindia'') is the central and, after Dortmund, second-largest city of the Ruhr, the largest urban area in Germany. Its population of makes it the fourth-largest city of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dor ...

essen
its effect on the land".
Wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

Wetland
s (which include saltwater swamps,
salt marsh A salt marsh or saltmarsh, also known as a coastal salt marsh or a tidal marsh A tidal marsh (also known as a type of "tidal wetland") is a marsh found along rivers, coasts and estuary, estuaries which floods and drains by the tide, tidal move ...

salt marsh
es, ...) and the vegetation it supports – trees, root mats, etc. – retain large amounts of water (surface water, snowmelt, rain, groundwater) and then slowly releases them back, decreasing the likeliness of floods.
Mangrove A mangrove is a shrub A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Pl ...

Mangrove
forests protect coastal shorelines from tidal erosion or erosion by currents; a process that was studied after the 1999 cyclone that hit India. Villages that were surrounded with mangrove forests encountered less damages than other villages that weren't protected by mangroves.


Provisioning services

Provisioning services consist of all "the products obtained from ecosystems".


Forest products

Forests produce a large type and variety of timber products, including roundwood, sawnwood, panels, and engineered wood, e.g., cross-laminated timber, as well as pulp and paper. Besides the production of timber, forestry activities may also result in products that undergo little processing, such as fire wood, charcoal, wood chips and roundwood used in an unprocessed form. Global production and trade of all major wood-based products recorded their highest ever values in 2018. Production, imports and exports of roundwood, sawnwood, wood-based panels, wood pulp, wood charcoal and pellets reached their maximum quantities since 1947 when
FAO The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
started reporting global forest product statistics. In 2018, growth in production of the main wood-based product groups ranged from 1 percent (woodbased panels) to 5 percent (industrial roundwood). The fastest growth occurred in the Asia-Pacific, Northern American and European regions, likely due to positive economic growth in these areas. Forests also provide non-wood forest products, including fodder, aromatic and medicinal plants, and wild foods. Worldwide, around 1 billion people depend to some extent on wild foods such as wild meat, edible insects, edible plant products, mushrooms and fish, which often contain high levels of key micronutrients. The value of forest foods as a nutritional resource is not limited to low- and middle-income countries; more than 100 million people in the European Union (EU) regularly consume wild food. Some 2.4 billion people – in both urban and rural settings – use wood-based energy for cooking.


Marine products

Marine ecosystems provide people with: wild & cultured seafood, fresh water, fiber & fuel and biochemical & genetic resources. Humans consume a large number of products originating from the seas, whether as a nutritious product or for use in other sectors: "More than one billion people worldwide, or one-sixth of the global population, rely on fish as their main source of animal protein. In 2000, marine and coastal fisheries accounted for 12 per cent of world food production".Molnar, Michelle; Clarke-Murray, Cathryn; Whitworth, Jogn & Tam, Jordan. , 2009 Fish and other edible marine products – primarily fish, shellfish, roe and seaweeds – constitute for populations living along the coast the main elements of the local cultural diets, norms and traditions. A very pertinent example would be sushi, the national food of Japan, which consists mostly of different types of fish and seaweed.


Fresh water

Water bodies that are not highly concentrated in salts are referred to as 'fresh water' bodies. Fresh water may run through lakes, rivers and streams, to name a few; but it is most prominently found in the frozen state or as soil moisture or buried deep underground. Fresh water is not only important for the survival of humans, but also for the survival of all the existing species of animals, plants.


Raw materials

Marine creatures provide us with the raw materials needed for the manufacturing of clothing, building materials (lime extracted from coral reefs), ornamental items and personal-use items (luffas, art and jewelry): "The skin of marine mammals for clothing, gas deposits for energy production, lime (extracted from coral reefs) for building construction, and the timber of mangroves and coastal forests for shelter are some of the more familiar uses of marine organisms. Raw marine materials are utilized for non-essential goods as well, such as shells and corals in ornamental items". Humans have also referred to processes within marine environments for the production of renewable energy: using the power of waves – or tidal power – as a source of energy for the powering of a turbine, for example. Oceans and seas are used as sites for offshore oil and gas installations, offshore wind farms.


Biochemical and genetic resources

Biochemical resources are compounds extracted from marine organisms for use in medicines, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other biochemical products. Genetic resources are the genetic information found in marine organisms that would later on be used for animal and plant breeding and for technological advances in the biological field. These resources are either directly taken out from an organism – such as fish oil as a source of omega3 –, or used as a model for innovative man-made products: "such as the construction of fiber optics technology based on the properties of sponges. ... Compared to terrestrial products, marine-sourced products tend to be more highly bioactive, likely due to the fact that marine organisms have to retain their potency despite being diluted in the surrounding sea-water".


Cultural services

Cultural services relate to the non-material world, as they benefit the benefit recreational, aesthetic, cognitive and spiritual activities, which are not easily quantifiable in monetary terms.


Inspirational

Marine environments have been used by many as an inspiration for their works of art, music, architecture, traditions... Water environments are spiritually important as a lot of people view them as a means for rejuvenation and change of perspective. Many also consider the water as being a part of their personality, especially if they have lived near it since they were kids: they associate it to fond memories and past experiences. Living near water bodies for a long time results in a certain set of water activities that become a ritual in the lives of people and of the culture in the region.


Recreation and tourism

Sea sports are very popular among coastal populations: surfing, snorkeling, whale watching, kayaking, recreational fishing...a lot of tourists also travel to resorts close to the sea or rivers or lakes to be able to experience these activities, and relax near the water. The United Nations
Sustainable Development Goal 14 Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Goal 14 or SDG 14) is about "Life below water" and is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed ...

Sustainable Development Goal 14
also has targets aimed at enhancing the use of ecosystem services for sustainable tourism especially in
Small Island Developing States Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a group of Developing country, developing countries that are small island countries which tend to share similar sustainable development challenges. These include small but growing populations, limited resou ...
.


Science and education

A lot can be learned from marine processes, environments and organisms – that could be implemented into our daily actions and into the scientific domain. Although much is still yet to still be known about the ocean world: "by the extraordinary intricacy and complexity of the marine environment and how it is influenced by large spatial scales, time lags, and cumulative effects".


Supporting services

Supporting services are the services that allow for the other ecosystem services to be present. They have indirect impacts on humans that last over a long period of time. Several services can be considered as being both supporting services and regulating/cultural/provisioning services.


Nutrient cycling

Nutrient cycling is the movement of nutrients through an ecosystem by biotic and abiotic processes. The ocean is a vast storage pool for these nutrients, such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. The nutrients are absorbed by the basic organisms of the marine food web and are thus transferred from one organism to the other and from one ecosystem to the other. Nutrients are recycled through the life cycle of organisms as they die and decompose, releasing the nutrients into the neighboring environment. "The service of nutrient cycling eventually impacts all other ecosystem services as all living things require a constant supply of nutrients to survive".


Biologically mediated habitats

Biologically mediated habitats are defined as being the habitats that living marine structures offer to other organisms. These need not to have evolved for the sole purpose of serving as a habitat, but happen to become living quarters whilst growing naturally. For example, coral reefs and mangrove forests are home to numerous species of fish, seaweed and shellfish... The importance of these habitats is that they allow for interactions between different species, aiding the provisioning of marine goods and services. They are also very important for the growth at the early life stages of marine species (breeding and bursary spaces), as they serve as a food source and as a shelter from predators.


Primary production

Primary production refers to the production of organic matter, i.e., chemically bound energy, through processes such as photosynthesis and chemosynthesis. The organic matter produced by primary producers forms the basis of all food webs. Further, it generates oxygen (O2), a molecule necessary to sustain animals and humans. On average, a human consumes about 550 liter of oxygen per day, whereas plants produce 1,5 liter of oxygen per 10 grams of growth.


Economics

There are questions regarding the environmental and economic values of ecosystem services. Some people may be unaware of the environment in general and humanity's interrelatedness with the natural environment, which may cause misconceptions. Although environmental awareness is rapidly improving in our contemporary world, ecosystem capital and its flow are still poorly understood, threats continue to impose, and we suffer from the so-called '
tragedy of the commons In economic science, the tragedy of the commons is a situation in which individual users, who have open access to a resource unhampered by shared social structures or formal rules that govern access and use, act independently according to their s ...
'. Many efforts to inform decision-makers of current versus future costs and benefits now involve organizing and translating scientific knowledge to
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...

economics
, which articulate the consequences of our choices in comparable units of impact on human well-being. An especially challenging aspect of this process is that interpreting ecological information collected from one spatial-temporal scale does not necessarily mean it can be applied at another; understanding the dynamics of ecological processes relative to ecosystem services is essential in aiding economic decisions. Weighting factors such as a service's irreplaceability or bundled services can also allocate economic value such that goal attainment becomes more efficient. The economic valuation of ecosystem services also involves social communication and information, areas that remain particularly challenging and are the focus of many researchers. In general, the idea is that although individuals make decisions for any variety of reasons, trends reveal the aggregated preferences of a society, from which the economic value of services can be inferred and assigned. The six major methods for valuing ecosystem services in monetary terms are: * Avoided cost: Services allow society to avoid costs that would have been incurred in the absence of those services (e.g. waste treatment by
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
habitats avoids health costs) * Replacement cost: Services could be replaced with man-made systems (e.g.
restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
of the Catskill Watershed cost less than the construction of a
water purification Water purification means the process of removing undesirable chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids, and gases from water. The goal is to produce water that is fit for specific purposes. Most water is purified and disinfected for ...
plant) * Factor income: Services provide for the enhancement of incomes (e.g. improved
water quality Water quality refers to the chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touche ...

water quality
increases the commercial take of a
fishery Fishery can mean either the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living ...

fishery
and improves the income of fishers) * Travel cost: Service demand may require travel, whose costs can reflect the implied value of the service (e.g. value of
ecotourism Ecotourism is a form of tourism at the archaeological site of Chichén Itza. in Vienna. Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring (disambiguation), touring, the business of attracting, accommodating ...
experience is at least what a visitor is willing to pay to get there) * Hedonic pricing: Service demand may be reflected in the prices people will pay for associated goods (e.g. coastal housing prices exceed that of inland homes) * Contingent valuation: Service demand may be elicited by posing hypothetical scenarios that involve some valuation of alternatives (e.g. visitors willing to pay for increased access to national parks) A peer-reviewed study published in 1997 estimated the value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital to be between US$16–54 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. However, Salles (2011) indicated 'The total value of biodiversity is infinite, so having debate about what is the total value of nature is actually pointless because we can't live without it'. As of 2012, many companies were not fully aware of the extent of their dependence and impact on ecosystems and the possible ramifications. Likewise, environmental management systems and environmental due diligence tools are more suited to handle "traditional" issues of pollution and natural
resource consumptionResource consumption is about the consumption of non-renewable A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a natural resource that cannot be readily replaced by natural means at a quick enough pace to keep up with consumption. An e ...
. Most focus on environmental impacts, not dependence. Several tools and methodologies can help the private sector value and assess ecosystem services, including Our Ecosystem, the 2008 Corporate Ecosystem Services Review, the Artificial Intelligence for Environment & Sustainability (ARIES) project from 2007, the Natural Value Initiative (2012) and InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services & Tradeoffs, 2012)


Management and policy

Although monetary pricing continues with respect to the valuation of ecosystem services, the challenges in policy implementation and management are significant and multitudinous. The administration of common pool resources has been a subject of extensive academic pursuit. From defining the problems to finding solutions that can be applied in practical and sustainable ways, there is much to overcome. Considering options must balance present and future human needs, and decision-makers must frequently work from valid but incomplete information. Existing legal policies are often considered insufficient since they typically pertain to human health-based standards that are mismatched with necessary means to protect
ecosystem health Ecosystem health is a metaphor used to describe the condition of an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. The ...
and services. In 2000, to improve the information available, the implementation of an ''Ecosystem Services Framework'' has been suggested (ESF), which integrates the biophysical and
socio-economic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the sci ...
dimensions of protecting the environment and is designed to guide institutions through multidisciplinary information and jargon, helping to direct strategic choices. As of 2005 Local to regional collective management efforts were considered appropriate for services like crop
pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen Pollen is a powdery substance consisting of pollen grains which are Sporophyte, microsporophytes of spermatophyta, seed plants, which produce male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat ...

pollination
or resources like water. Another approach that has become increasingly popular during the 1990s is the marketing of ecosystem services protection. Payment and trading of services is an emerging worldwide small-scale solution where one can acquire credits for activities such as sponsoring the protection of carbon sequestration sources or the
restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
of ecosystem service providers. In some cases, banks for handling such credits have been established and conservation companies have even gone public on stock exchanges, defining an evermore parallel link with economic endeavors and opportunities for tying into social perceptions. However, crucial for implementation are clearly defined
land rights Land law is the form of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment ...
, which are often lacking in many
developing countries A developing country is a sovereign state with a less developed Industrial sector, industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no ...

developing countries
.Jessica Brown and Neil Bird 2010
Costa Rica sustainable resource management: Successfully tackling tropical deforestation
. London:
Overseas Development Institute The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is a global affairs think tank, founded in 1960. Formally known as the “Overseas Development Institute”, its mission is "to inspire people to act on injustice and inequality through collaborative res ...
In particular, many forest-rich developing countries suffering
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
experience conflict between different forest stakeholders. In addition, concerns for such global transactions include inconsistent compensation for services or resources sacrificed elsewhere and misconceived warrants for irresponsible use. As of 2001, another approach focused on protecting ecosystem service
biodiversity hotspot A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Geneti ...
s. Recognition that the conservation of many ecosystem services aligns with more traditional conservation goals (i.e.
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
) has led to the suggested merging of objectives for maximizing their mutual success. This may be particularly strategic when employing networks that permit the flow of services across
landscapes A landscape is the visible features of an area of land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agric ...

landscapes
, and might also facilitate securing the financial means to protect services through a diversification of investors. For example, as of 2013, there had been interest in the valuation of ecosystem services provided by
shellfish Shellfish is a colloquial and fisheries Fishery is the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life. Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and Fish farming, fish farms, both in fresh water (about 10% of all catch) and ...

shellfish
production and restoration. A keystone species, low in the food chain, bivalve shellfish such as oysters support a complex community of species by performing a number of functions essential to the diverse array of species that surround them. There is also increasing recognition that some shellfish species may impact or control many ecological processes; so much so that they are included on the list of "ecosystem engineers"—organisms that physically, biologically or chemically modify the environment around them in ways that influence the health of other organisms. Many of the ecological functions and processes performed or affected by shellfish contribute to human well-being by providing a stream of valuable ecosystem services over time by filtering out particulate materials and potentially mitigating water quality issues by controlling excess nutrients in the water. As of 2018, the concept of ecosystem services had not been properly implemented into international and regional legislation yet. Notwithstanding, the United Nations
Sustainable Development Goal 15 Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15 or Global Goal 15) is about "Life on land." One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed ...

Sustainable Development Goal 15
has a target to ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of ecosystem services.


Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA)

Ecosystem-based adaptation Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) encompasses a broad set of approaches to adapt to climate change. They all involve the management of ecosystems and their services to reduce the vulnerability of human communities to the impacts of climate change ...
or EbA is a strategy for community development and environmental management that seeks to use an ecosystem services framework to help communities adapt to the
effects of climate change The effects of climate change span the physical environment A biophysical environment is a biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is ...
. The
Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treatyMultilateral may refer to: * Multilateralism * Multilateration * Flea flicker (American football) {{disambig .... The conven ...
defines it as "the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change", which includes the use of "sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall adaptation strategy that takes into account the multiple social, economic and cultural co-benefits for local communities".ebaflagship.org
/ref> In 2001, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment announced that humanity's impact on the natural world was increasing to levels never before seen, and that the degradation of the planet's ecosystems would become a major barrier to achieving the
Millennium Development Goals The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were eight international development International development or global development is a broad concept denoting the idea that societies and countries have differing levels of "development" on an inte ...
. In recognition of this fact, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation sought to use the restoration of ecosystems as a stepping-stone to improve the quality of life in communities experiencing the impacts of climate change. Specifically, it involved the restoration of such ecosystems that provide food and water and protection from
storm surges A storm surge, storm flood, tidal surge, or storm tide is a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water commonly associated with low-pressure weather systems, such as cyclones. It is measured as the rise in water level above the ...
and flooding. EbA interventions combine elements of both
climate change mitigation Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been , but the current cha ...
and
adaptation to global warming Climate change adaptation is the process of adjusting to current or expected climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patte ...
to help address the community's current and future needs. Collaborative planning between scientists, policy makers, and community members is an essential element of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation. By drawing on the expertise of outside experts and local residents alike, EbA seeks to develop unique solutions to unique problems, rather than simply replicating past projects.


Land use change decisions

Ecosystem services decisions require making complex choices at the intersection of
ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers organisms In biol ...
,
technology Technology ("science of craft", from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. I ...

technology
,
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...

society
, and the
economy An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products ...

economy
. The process of making ecosystem services decisions must consider the interaction of many types of information, honor all
stakeholder Stakeholder may refer to: *Stakeholder (corporate), a group, corporate, organization, member, or system that affects or can be affected by an organization's actions *Project stakeholder, a person, group, or organization with an interest in a projec ...
viewpoints, including regulatory agencies, proposal proponents, decision makers, residents,
NGO A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first ...
s, and measure the impacts on all four parts of the intersection. These decisions are usually spatial, always multi-objective, and based on uncertain data, models, and estimates. Often it is the combination of the best science combined with the stakeholder values, estimates and opinions that drive the process. One analytical study modeled the stakeholders as agents to support water resource management decisions in the Middle Rio Grande basin of New Mexico. This study focused on modeling the stakeholder inputs across a spatial decision, but ignored uncertainty. Another study used
Monte Carlo Monte Carlo (; ; french: Monte-Carlo , or colloquially ''Monte-Carl'' ; lij, label= Monégasque, Munte Carlu; ) is officially an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: ...
methods to exercise econometric models of landowner decisions in a study of the effects of land-use change. Here the stakeholder inputs were modeled as random effects to reflect the uncertainty. A third study used a Bayesian
decision support system A decision support system (DSS) is an Information systems, information system that supports business or organizational decision-making activities. DSSs serve the management, operations and planning levels of an organization (usually mid and highe ...
to both model the uncertainty in the scientific information Bayes Nets and to assist collecting and fusing the input from stakeholders. This study was about siting wave energy devices off the Oregon Coast, but presents a general method for managing uncertain spatial science and stakeholder information in a decision making environment.
Remote sensing Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object, in contrast to in situ ''In situ'' (; often not italicized in English) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a class ...

Remote sensing
data and analyses can be used to assess the health and extent of land cover classes that provide ecosystem services, which aids in planning, management, monitoring of stakeholders' actions, and communication between stakeholders. In Baltic countries scientists, nature conservationists and local authorities are implementing integrated planning approach for grassland ecosystems. They are developing an integrated planning tool based on
GIS A geographic information system (GIS) is a conceptualized framework that provides the ability to capture and analyze spatial and geographic data. GIS applications (or GIS apps) are computer-based tools that allow the user to create interactive ...

GIS
(geographic information system) technology and put online that will help for planners to choose the best grassland management solution for concrete grassland. It will look holistically at the processes in the countryside and help to find best grassland management solutions by taking into account both natural and socioeconomic factors of the particular site.


History

While the notion of human dependence on Earth's ecosystems reaches to the start of ''
Homo sapiens Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and large, complex brains. This has enabled the development of advanced tools, culture, and language. Humans are highl ...

Homo sapiens
'' existence, the term 'natural capital' was first coined by
E.F. Schumacher Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (16 August 1911 – 4 September 1977) was a German-British statistician and economist who is best known for his proposals for human-scale, Decentralization, decentralised and appropriate technology, appropriate techno ...
in 1973 in his book ''
Small is Beautiful ''Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered'' is a collection of essays by German-born British economist E. F. Schumacher. The phrase "Small Is Beautiful" came from a principle espoused by Schumacher's teacher Leopo ...
''. Recognition of how ecosystems could provide complex services to humankind date back to at least
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
(c. 400 BC) who understood that
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
could lead to soil
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
and the drying of springs.Daily, G.C. 1997. Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems. Island Press, Washington. 392pp. Modern ideas of ecosystem services probably began when Marsh challenged in 1864 the idea that Earth's natural resources are unbounded by pointing out changes in
soil fertility Soil fertility refers to the ability of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support li ...
in the Mediterranean. It was not until the late 1940s that three key authors—
Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr Henry Fairfield Osborn Jr. (15 January 1887 – 16 September 1969), was an American conservation movement, conservationist. He was longtime president of the New York Zoological Society (today known as the Wildlife Conservation Society). Biography ...
,
William Vogt William Vogt (15 May 1902 – 11 July 1968) was an ecologist Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their phy ...
, and
Aldo Leopold Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an American author, philosopher, naturalist, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his ...
—promoted recognition of human dependence on the environment. In 1956,
Paul SearsPaul Bigelow Sears (December 17, 1891 – April 30, 1990) was an American ecologist Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including hum ...
drew attention to the critical role of the ecosystem in processing wastes and recycling nutrients. In 1970,
Paul Ehrlich Paul Ehrlich (; 14 March 1854 – 20 August 1915) was a Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( , ; 21 October 1833  ...
and Rosa Weigert called attention to "ecological systems" in their environmental science textbook and "the most subtle and dangerous threat to man's existence... the potential destruction, by man's own activities, of those ecological systems upon which the very existence of the human species depends". The term "environmental services" was introduced in a 1970 report of the ''Study of Critical Environmental Problems'', which listed services including insect pollination,
fisheries Fishery is the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish and other aquatic life. Commercial fisheries include wild fisheries and Fish farming, fish farms, both in fresh water (about 10% of all catch) and the oceans (about 90%). About 500 million pe ...
,
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...

climate
regulation and
flood A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often ...

flood
control. In following years, variations of the term were used, but eventually 'ecosystem services' became the standard in scientific literature. The ecosystem services concept has continued to expand and includes
socio-economic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the sci ...
and
conservation Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. Conservation may also refer to: Environment and natural resources * Nature conservation, the protection and manageme ...
objectives, which are discussed below. A history of the concepts and terminology of ecosystem services as of 1997, can be found in Daily's book "Nature's Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems". While
Gretchen Daily Gretchen C. Daily (born October 19, 1964) is an American environmental scientist and tropical ecologist. She has contributed to understanding humanity's dependence and impacts on nature, and to advancing a systematic approach for valuing nature in ...
's original definition distinguished between ecosystem goods and ecosystem services,
Robert Costanza Robert Costanza (born September 14, 1950) is an American/Australian ecological economist and Professor of Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social ...

Robert Costanza
and colleagues' later work and that of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment lumped all of these together as ecosystem services.


Examples

The following examples illustrate the relationships between humans and natural ecosystems through the services derived from them: * The US military has funded research through the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which claims that Department of Defense lands and military installations provide substantial ecosystem services to local communities, including benefits to carbon storage, resiliency to climate, and endangered species habitat. As of 2020, research from Duke University claims for example
Eglin Air Force Base Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) is a United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents tra ...
provides about $110 million in ecosystem services per year, $40 million more than if no base was present. * In
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
, where the quality of drinking water had fallen below standards required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), authorities opted to restore the polluted Catskill Watershed that had previously provided the city with the ecosystem service of water purification. Once the input of sewage and pesticides to the
watershed Watershed is a hydrological term, which has been adopted in other fields in a more or less figurative sense. It may refer to: Hydrology * Drainage divide, the line that separates neighbouring drainage basins ** European watershed * Drainage basin, ...

watershed
area was reduced, natural processes such as soil
absorption Absorption may refer to: Chemistry and biology *Absorption (chemistry), diffusion of particles of gas or liquid into liquid or solid materials *Absorption (skin), a route by which substances enter the body through the skin *Absorption (pharmacolo ...
and
filtration Filtration is a physical separation process A separation process is a method that converts a mixture or solution of chemical substances into two or more distinct product mixtures. At least one of results of the separation is enriched in one or m ...
of chemicals, together with biotic recycling via root systems and soil
microorganisms A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...

microorganisms
,
water quality Water quality refers to the chemical A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touche ...

water quality
improved to levels that met government standards. The cost of this investment in
natural capital on "natural capital" and "balancing the budget of our resources" File:Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory.jpg, Fires along the Rio Xingu, Brazil - NASA Earth Observatory. Loss of natural capital assets may have significant ...
was estimated between $1–1.5 billion, which contrasted dramatically with the estimated $6–8 billion cost of constructing a
water filtration A water filter removes impurities by lowering contamination of water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is ...
plant plus the $300 million annual running costs. * Pollination of
crops A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crops may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture Agriculture is the ...

crops
by bees is required for 15–30% of U.S.
food production The food industry is a complex, global network of diverse business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Product (business), products (such as goods and services). Simply put, it ...
; most large-scale farmers import non-native honey bees to provide this service. A 2005 study reported that in California's agricultural region, it was found that wild bees alone could provide partial or complete pollination services or enhance the services provided by honey bees through behavioral interactions. However, intensified agricultural practices can quickly erode pollination services through the loss of species. The remaining species are unable to compensate this. The results of this study also indicate that the proportion of
chaparral Chaparral ( ) is a shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominance (ecology), dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, Herbaceous plant, herbs, and geophytes. Shrublan ...

chaparral
and oak-woodland habitat available for wild bees within 1–2 km of a
farm A farm (also called an agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases i ...

farm
can stabilize and enhance the provision of pollination services. The presence of such ecosystem elements functions almost like an insurance policy for farmers. * In watersheds of the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
China, spatial models for water flow through different forest habitats were created to determine potential contributions for
hydroelectric power Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is electricity produced from hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water to produce electricity or to power machin ...
in the region. By quantifying the relative value of ecological parameters (vegetation-soil-slope complexes), researchers were able to estimate the annual economic benefit of maintaining forests in the watershed for power services to be 2.2 times that if it were harvested once for timber. * In the 1980s, mineral water company
Vittel Vittel (; archaic ) is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belo ...

Vittel
now a brand of Nestlé Waters) faced the problem that nitrate and pesticides were entering the company's springs in northeastern France. Local farmers had intensified agricultural practices and cleared native vegetation that previously had filtered water before it seeped into the aquifer used by Vittel. This contamination threatened the company's right to use the "natural mineral water" label under French law. In response to this business risk, Vittel developed an incentive package for farmers to improve their agricultural practices and consequently reduce water pollution that had affected Vittel's product. For example, Vittel provided subsidies and free technical assistance to farmers in exchange for farmers' agreement to enhance pasture management, reforest catchments, and reduce the use of agrochemicals, an example of a
payment for ecosystem services Payments for ecosystem services (PES), also known as payments for environmental services (or benefits), are incentives offered to farmers or landowners in exchange for managing their land to provide some sort of ecological service. They have been d ...
program. * In 2016, it was counted that to plant 15 000 ha new woodland in the UK, considering only the value of timber, it would cost £79 000 000, which is more than the benefit of £65 000 000. If, however, all other benefits the trees in lowland could provide (like soil stabilization, wind deflection, recreation, food production, air purification, carbon storage, wildlife habitat, fuel production, cooling, flood prevention) were included, the costs will increase due to displacing the profitable farmland (would be around £231 000 000) but would be overweight by benefits of £546 000 000. * In Europe, various projects are implemented in order to define the values of concrete ecosystems and to implement this concept into decision making process. For example, "LIFE Viva grass" project aims to do this with grasslands in Baltics.


See also

*
Blue carbon Blue carbon refers to carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by the world's ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the bo ...
* Biodiversity banking * Flood control by beavers * Controlled Ecological Life Support System * Diversity-function debate * Earth Economics * Ecological goods and services * Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction * Environmental finance * Existence value * Forest farming * Indigenous peoples#Environmental and economic benefits of having indigenous peoples tend land, Environmental and economic benefits of having indigenous peoples tend land * Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services * Keystone species: i.e. wildfire risk reduction by grazers, ... * Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project * Mitigation banking * Natural Capital * Non-timber forest product * Oxygen cycle * Panama Canal Watershed * Rangeland Management * Soil functions * Spaceship Earth * Nature Based Solutions


Sources


References


Further reading

* * * *


External links


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Earth Economics

Gund Institute for Ecological Economics

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

COHAB Initiative on Health and Biodiversity – Ecosystems and Human Well-being

The ARIES Project

Ecosystem Marketplace

Plan Vivo: an operational model for Payments for Ecosystem Services


at Green Facts
Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP) system
for modeling impacts on aquatic ecosystem services
Project Life+ Making Good Natura

GecoServ
– Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (includes studies from all over the world, but only coastal ecosystems relevant to the Gulf of Mexico)
Ecosystem services in environmental accounting
;Regional
Ecosystem Services
at the US Forest Service
GecoServ
– Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Services Valuation Database
LIFE VIVA Grass
– grassland ecosystems services in Baltic countries (assessment and integrated planning) {{DEFAULTSORT:Ecosystem Services Ecological restoration Ecological economics Systems ecology Social ecology Human ecology Forestry and the environment Environmental social science concepts