Ecosystem services


Ecosystems provide a wide variety of services, which can be divided in 3 categories:

1. Provisioning services

2. Regulating and supporting services

3. Cultural services

 


 

 


Provisioning services

Food                           Ecosystems provide the conditions for growing food
Raw materials Ecosystems provide a great diversity of materials for construction and fuel including wood, biofuels and plant oils
Fresh water

Ecosystems play a vital role in the global hydrological cycle, as they regulate the flow and purification of water

Medical resources

Ecosystems and biodiversity provide many plants used as traditional medicines as well as providing the raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry

 

Regulating and supporting services

Climate and air quality

Trees or other plants play an important role in regulating air quality by removing pollutants from the atmosphere

Moderating of extreme events

Ecosystems and living organisms create buffers against natural disasters and hazards including floods, storms, tsunamis, avalanches and landslides, thereby preventing possible damage. For example, wetlands can soak up flood water whilst trees can stabilize slopes
Erosion prevention and maintenance of soil fertility Vegetation cover provides a vital regulating service by preventing soil erosion. Soil fertility is essential for plant growth and agriculture and well functioning ecosystems supply the soil with nutrients
Habitat for species

Habitats provide everything that an individual plant or animal needs to survive: food; water; and shelter

Maintenance of genetic diversity

Genetic diversity is the variety of genes between and within species populations. Genetic diversity distinguishes different breeds or races from each other thus providing the basis for locally well-adapted cultivars and a gene pool for further developing commercial crops and livestock

 

Cultural services

Recreation and mental and physical health The role that green space plays in maintaining mental and physical health is increasingly being recognized
Tourism

Ecosystems and biodiversity play an important role for many kinds of tourism. Cultural and eco-tourism can also educate people about the importance of biological diversity

Aesthetic inspiration Biodiversity, ecosystems and natural landscapes have been the source of inspiration for much of our art, culture and science

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