What are ecosystem services?
“Ecosystem services are the conditions and processes by which natural ecosystems, and the species than make them up, sustain and fulfil human life”
This definition of ecosystem services specifically refers to the services derived from natural ecosystems where the role of humans within the system is thought to be minimal. However the “natural” biotic, chemical and physical processes of agroecosystems and urban-ecosystems are also important in providing ecosystem services to sustain and fulfill human life.
Therefore, more generally ecosystem services are the conditions and processes by which all ecosystems, and the species and elements that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life.
The concept of ecosystem services is human centered (anthropocentric) and provides a way of understanding
- the importance of ecosystem processes and functions,
- the functional condition of ecosystems, and
- the relationship between humans and their environment (i.e. our dependence on ecosystems, particularly natural ecosystems).
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