Ecosystem Services

How do you value nature?

Is it the visual pleasure of the landscapes surrounding our towns and cities that offer a sense of freedom, a place of tranquillity or space for exploration and adventure?

Is it your encounters with wildlife when it visits your garden or as it crosses your path when you are out walking in the countryside?

The value of nature not only provides us with a sense of well being, recreational opportunities and tranquillity, our natural world, it’s biodiversity and constituent ecosystems are the foundation of all life on earth and as such are the most valuable asset available to human kind.

“Ecosystem Services” describe the diverse benefits that we
derive from thenatural environment that contribute to
making human life both possible and worth living.

Our ecosystems provide us with the food we eat and the water we drink. They provide our energy resources, building materials and our natural medicines. They regulate our climate and capture and store carbon whilst creating the air that we breath and the soils and nutrients necessary to enable life to grow on earth. These services may be grouped into four broad categories:

The ecosystem approach

Many of the benefits provided by our ecosystems have and continue to be under-recognised and our demand for goods provided by our natural world have come at a cost to other indirect ecosystem services (threats to ecosystems services).

There are now worldwide concerns over the capacity of ecosystems to continue providing the services that are critical to our future. With the aim of safeguarding our natural resources a national ecosystem approach has been developed which integrates the management of land, water and living resources to promote conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way.

The Sussex LNP aims to translate this ecosystem approach from a national level to a local level to secure the healthiest possible ecological system.

There is a wealth of activity already across Sussex adopting this approach.

Ecosystem mapping

Sussex is trialling the Durham developed "ecoserve" system for mapping ecosystem servies. Maps should be available in early 2014.


Provisioning Services

The supply of natural goods from ecosystems

  • Fibre
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • Drinking water
  • Energy
  • Medicine
  • Wild species

Regulating Services

The role of ecosystems in regulating earth’s natural systems

  • Flood control
  • Waste breakdown
  • Local climate
  • Disease control
  • Pollination


Cultural Services

The non-material benefits humans derive from natural ecosystems

  • Meaningful places
  • Access & Recreation
  • Tourism
  • Wild species variety
  • Spiritual enrichment


Support Services

The services required for the generation of other ecosystem services

  • Nutrient & water cycling
  • Weathering
  • Plant growth
  • Soil formation
  • Evolution & ecological interactions