Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series
Edited by Angus Morrison-Saunders, Jenny Pope and Alan Bond
Chapter 10: Ecosystem services and sustainability assessment: theory and practice
Ecosystem services are the benefits human populations derive from ecosystems. Understandings of ecosystem services, stemming largely from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), tend to differentiate between different ecosystem service types, namely (MA, 2003): _ Supporting services necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services, like soil formation, nutrient cycling and primary production. _ Regulating services which deliver benefits ranging across climate regulation (e.g. regulation of flood water), disease regulation, water purification, and so on. _ Provisioning services delivering the direct goods people acquire from ecosystems including food, fuel and water. Provisioning services are highly interdependent and are strongly underpinned by supporting and regulating services. _ Cultural services, which are non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems and include things like cultural heritage, sense of place, parks, rivers and lakes, the seashore and the wider countryside. Amongst other things, they provide opportunities for outdoor learning and recreation, with benefits in terms of health and broader spiritual well-being.
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