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Biodiversity

5. Ecosystem services

We derive a vast array of benefits from nature that is reliant upon an intact biodiversity; these are often described as ‘ecosystem services’. Ecosystem services provide outputs or outcomes that directly and indirectly affect human wellbeing and these considerations can link well to taking an economic approach. These services include supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural services.

  • Supporting - These services are essential for establishing other ecosystem services and include services such as nutrient recycling, primary production and the formation of soil.
  • Provisioning - Ecosystems also provide us with a variety of products including food, water, raw materials, and energy.
  • Regulating - Ecosystems also regulate the world around us and make it habitable. Such services include the storage of carbon, climate regulation, waste recycling, purification of water and air, pest and disease control and flood prevention.
  • Cultural - Ecosystems also provide cultural benefits to us including connecting up with the world around us, this in turn has clear health benefits. We also use ecosystems for recreation and education.

The services that ecosystems provide are being lost though as we degrade our planet. One study, known as that The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) has estimated that the cost of degradation of our planets ecosystems is costing us 50 billion Euros each year, a cost that is likely to increase in the future if we do not change the way we care for the planet.

For more information see the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) framework.

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Last updated: 16 January 2017

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