Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are the beneficial resources and processes provided to people by the natural environment. Traditionally, ecosystem services were available to everyone, but as urban and suburban sprawl grows and natural environment declines, these services are no longer always available. Some supporters of environmental health and green infrastructure have attempted to put a monetary value on ecosystem services to put into perspective their worth to human health and well-being.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment “Ecosystems and Human Well-Being” report categorizes ecosystem services as including:

  • Provisioning services: food, water, timber, and fiber
  • Regulating services that affect: climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality
  • Cultural services that provide: recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits
  • Supporting services such as: soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling.

All of the services listed above impact peoples’ quality of life and are provided by natural ecosystems. Stormwater BMPs often attempt to replicate natural ecosystems and processes and can enhance ecosystem services in your yard and local neighborhood!