Ecosystem services

While the idea that humans benefit from nature is not new, the concept of “ecosystem services” has been evolving since the 1970s, gaining increasing momentum in recent years. 

In 2003, the United Nations released a wide-ranging report called the “Millennium Ecosystem Assessment,” which examined the worldwide decline in ecosystem services. It elaborated on this basic definition: Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include:

  • Provisioning services, such as food and water; 
  • Regulating services, such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation and disease; 
  • Supporting services, such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and 
  • Cultural services, such as recreational, spiritual, religious and nonmaterial benefits.

Source: 2015 Puget Sound Fact Book

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