Ecosystem Services

K. A. Brauman, G. C. Daily

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Ecosystems are capital assets: they supply a stream of vital benefits such as food, fuel, clean water, flood control, and inspiration. These goods and services, produced by the conditions and processes of ecosystems, are called ecosystem services. Recognizing how and how much ecosystems benefit people is critical to understanding the complex environment-related tradeoffs that face society today. In the ideal, the ecosystem services framework elucidates approaches in which the protection of services makes sense from biophysical, economic, and cultural perspectives. Recognizing ecosystem services makes protecting the environment synonymous with securing human welfare. A great deal remains to be learned, however, about the nature and value of ecosystem service flows. Relative to other forms of capital, assets embodied in ecosystems are poorly understood, scarcely monitored, and undergo rapid degradation and depletion. Often the importance of ecosystem services is recognized only upon their loss, as in the wake of disastrous flooding or salinization of land and water. As a result, ecosystem capital is typically undervalued. Nonetheless, innovative and promising efforts are now underway worldwide to quantify ecosystem services and align economic incentives with their protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Ecology, Five-Volume Set
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780080914565
ISBN (Print)9780080454054
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Conservation
  • Ecological economics
  • Economic incentives
  • Environment
  • Flood control
  • Forests
  • Human well-being
  • Pollination
  • Water supply
  • Wetlands


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