Ecosystem services

The various benefits that ecosystems provide to humans freely are known as ecosystem services.
One can distinguish four different types of ecosystem services (ES):
  • Provisioning services including the supply of food, raw material (wood, biofuels, etc.), water and medicinal resources
  • Regulating services such as the regulation of air quality and soil fertility or pollination
  • Supporting services that provide habitat for species or maintain biodiversity
  • Cultural services that are non-material benefits to humans providing recreational, touristic or spiritual activities and inspiration

The concept of ES stems from a strong sustainability framework and its first aim was to help preserve biodiversity. Today, it is increasingly used to foster sustainable landscape management and planning, to increase well-being of local actors.

In order to achieve this, inclusive integrated valuation frameworks are developed. These frameworks combine different types of values (social, economic, biophysical), and include local stakeholders in a participatory way. A key focus at ILEE lies on the issue of social valuation of ES, assessing trade-offs and synergies between ES and actors to improve local ES governance.
Methodological approaches include ES mapping, modelling, and integrated ES assessments.

Photo by C. Mayer

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