Ecosystem services are defined as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems”. They can be broadly split into provisioning services (e.g. food, goods and materials), regulating services (e.g. regulation of the carbon cycle or alleviation of flooding) and cultural services (e.g. a sense of well-being derived from nature or spiritual benefits).
Environmental services by comparison can be thought of as those which might be provided by human-derived infrastructure or broader aspects of the environment. What separates ecosystem services from environmental is the former’s dependency upon biota and/or biotic functioning to produce their benefit.
Test your knowledge
Test your understanding by differentiating the services into their respective categories below. Remember to have a think about whether the different services functioning is as the result of ecosystem functioning (i.e. these would be “ecosystem services”) or other means (which would be “environmental services”).
Developed by Dr Kristofer Chan, 2023