Ecosystem Services: A noble tool towards Sustainability


Does the ecosystem services benefit in the conservation of biodiversity outcomes? Well, this context of uncertainty has certainly brought people talking about ecosystem services more often than before. When you are dealing with ecosystem services, you're not only addressing the issues but also finding the solutions to it. The incessantly growing population and the contemporary lifestyle changes mean that we no longer live in a modest environment. There is a prevailing notion among the scientific community that we live in a full world. And it is quite clear that the natural resources are being compromised to fuel this growth.  

An ecosystem service is a value-laden and promising tool that allows for integrating different forms of knowledge. Therefore, knowledge integration is something that is to be considered as the core of ecosystem services. The ecosystem services as the experts believe has two dimensions to it; descriptive and normative. Not to mention the number of players who are involved in implementing the ecosystem services, ranging from environmentalists, ecologists, conservationists, biologists, and economists.  

The concept of ecosystem services dates back to several decades. However, it was the "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment" (MA) in 2005 that brought light to this notion by further setting linkage to define the services offered by nature and how it amplifies the human wellbeing. According to MA, ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from the ecosystem. The ecosystem services are broadly classified into four diverse groups which include; provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services.       

Now let us look into the four categories of ecosystem services briefly;  

Provisioning Services  

This service of ecosystem comprises of all the products obtained from the ecosystems. Which covers food (both cultured seafood and wild); raw materials (including fuelwood, organic matter, fodder, and fertilizer); genetic resources (crop improvement genes); water purity, biogenic minerals; medicinal resources (including pharmaceuticals, chemical models and test); energy (hydropower, biomass fuels); and ornamental supplies ( including jewelry and souvenirs like furs, feathers, orchids, seashells, and ivory).  

Regulating Services  

Regulating services are the benefits derived from the administration of the ecosystem processes. Regulating services include carbon sequestration and climate control; waste decomposition and detoxification; water and air purification; flood regulation; pest and disease control.  

Cultural Services  

The cultural services include depicting the values of nature through various forms of communication channels (books, painting, folklore, and national symbols); promoting the value through recreational services such as ecotourism and outdoor sports; investing in education and science (field excursion and scientific discovery); and spiritual, religious and historical significance (heritage value).

Supporting Services  

This form of ecosystem service delivers a support system that allows the coexistence of other ecosystem services around (including food supply and water purification). The support services include; nutrient cycling, primary production, soil formation, pollination, and habitat provision.  

Mainstreaming the Ecosystem Services   

The ecosystem service approach becomes valuable when it is incorporated to access natural resources and its functioning. In this way, the service method will allow the decision-makers to weigh the pros and cons of a particular project which deals with natural capital. Therefore, mainstreaming the ideas of the ecosystem services triggers vital responses across different sectors, leading to service benefits and risk analysis when needed. In addition to this, devising a sound approach allows both the private and government sectors to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the project. And also, it brings more transparency to the system.  

The basic principle behind promoting the ecosystem services is to create a sustainable and ethical society that is mutually bound to nature. Experts believe that this connection will synergize and further bridge the existing communication gap between the policymakers and stakeholders who are involved in the decision-making.  

Shortcomings of the Ecosystem Service Approach  

The following are some of the weaknesses that experts relate to the ecosystem services;  

1. Lack of legitimacy revolving around the implementation phase. 

2. The entire process is time-consuming and the results might take even longer to appear.  

3. The mismatch between active governance and services at the grassroots level.  

4. The system approach is too complex at times for the beginners to understand and requires scientific indulgence.   

5. Possess a high level of uncertainty in evaluation.  

6. Difficulty in quantifying the outcomes.   


The field of ecosystem services approach offers a relatively modern way to protect biodiversity. It is fair enough to say that the ecosystem service method cautions us by highlighting how we are eroding the natural resources that are feeding us. Therefore, it is highly imperative to integrate knowledge and cutting-edge resources from various multi-level stakeholders and incorporate their views into game-changing actions. In my conviction, the field of ecosystem services has the potential and flair to outnumber the existing challenges that are hovering around. However, ensuring a creative balance between the essential functionalities remain an area of concern. 


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem_service

2. Ecosystem Services: A method for sustainable development by the University of Geneva, Coursera

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