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1.2.2 What are ecosystem services?

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Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems.

At the heart of the Ecosystem Approach is the idea of the interdependence of human-environment relations. Our own health and well-being as a species and as individuals is intimately connected to the health of the natural environment.

These benefits,or ecosystem services, are multiple and varied and include more obvious and tangible things like food, freshwater and fuel (often referred to as provisioning services), but also less obvious  things like climate regulation and insect pollination (examples of regulating services); and leisure and recreation opportunities and even spiritual and aesthetic experiences (examples of what are commonly termed cultural services).

The classification of ecosystem services adopted by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment distinguishes the following four categories: provisioning services, regulating services, cultural services and supporting services [MEA, 2005Resource].

 

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