Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services are the links between nature and business. Each of these services represent a benefit that nature provides to enable or facilitate business production processes.

Ecosystem services were classified according to the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) which comprises a five-level hierarchical structure, for example: Section (e.g. Provisioning), Division (e.g. Nutrition), Group (e.g. Terrestrial plants and animals for food), Class (e.g. crops), and Class type (e.g. wheat). Cultural ecosystem services were not considered in this project as they are not considered to be direct inputs or to enable production processes. The CICES framework has been simplified as below for the purposes of this project:

Animal-based energy

Physical labour is provided by domesticated or commercial species, including oxen, horses, donkeys, goats and elephants. These can be grouped as draught animals, pack animals and mounts.


Bio-remediation is a natural process whereby living organisms such as micro-organisms, plants, algae, and some animals degrade, reduce, and/or detoxify contaminants.

Buffering and attenuation of mass flows

Buffering and attenuation of mass flows allows the transport and storage of sediment by rivers, lakes and seas.

Climate regulation

Global climate regulation is provided by nature through the long-term storage of carbon dioxide in soils, vegetable biomass, and the oceans. At a regional level, the climate is regulated by ocean currents and winds while, at local and micro-levels, vegetation can modify temperatures, humidity, and wind speeds.

Dilution by atmosphere and ecosystems

Water, both fresh and saline, and the atmosphere can dilute the gases, fluids and solid waste produced by human activity.

Disease control

Ecosystems play important roles in regulation of diseases for human populations as well as for wild and domesticated flora and fauna.

Fibres and other materials

Fibres and other materials from plants, algae and animals are directly used or processed for a variety of purposes. This includes wood, timber, and fibres which are not further processed, as well as material for production, such as cellulose, cotton, and dyes, and plant, animal and algal material for fodder and fertiliser use.


Filtering, sequestering, storing, and accumulating pollutants is carried out by a range of organisms including, algae, animals, microorganisms and vascular and non-vascular plants.

Flood and storm protection

Flood and storm protection is provided by the sheltering, buffering and attenuating effects of natural and planted vegetation.

Genetic materials

Genetic material is understood to be deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and all biota including plants, animals and algae.

Ground water

Groundwater is water stored underground in aquifers made of permeable rocks, soil and sand. The water that contributes to groundwater sources originates from rainfall, snow melts and water flow from natural freshwater resources.

Maintain nursery habitats

Nurseries are habitats that make a significantly high contribution to the reproduction of individuals from a particular species, where juveniles occur at higher densities, avoid predation more successfully, or grow faster than in other habitats.

Mass stabilisation and erosion control

Mass stabilisation and erosion control is delivered through vegetation cover protected and stabilising terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems, coastal wetlands and dunes. Vegetation on slopes also prevents avalanches and landslides, and mangroves, sea grass and macroalgae provide erosion protection of coasts and sediments.

Mediation of sensory impacts

Vegetation is the main (natural) barrier used to reduce noise and light pollution, limiting the impact it can have on human health and the environment.

Pest control

Pest control and invasive alien species management is provided through direct introduction and maintenance of populations of the predators of the pest or the invasive species, landscaping areas to encourage habitats for pest reduction, and the manufacture of a family of natural biocides based on natural toxins to pests.


Pollination services are provided by three main mechanisms: animals, water and wind. The majority of plants depend to some extent on animals that act as vectors, or pollinators, to perform the transfer of pollen.

Soil quality

Soil quality is provided through weathering processes, which maintain bio-geochemical conditions of soils including fertility and soil structure, and decomposition and fixing processes, which enables nitrogen fixing, nitrification and mineralisation of dead organic material.

Surface water

Surface water is provided through freshwater resources from collected precipitation and water flow from natural sources.


Ventilation provided by natural or planted vegetation is vital for good indoor air quality and without it there are long term health implications for building occupants due to the build-up of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), airborne bacteria and moulds.

Water flow maintenance

The hydrological cycle, also called water cycle or hydrologic cycle, is the system that enables circulation of water through the Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans. The hydrological cycle is responsible for recharge of groundwater sources (i.e. aquifers) and maintenance of surface water flows.

Water quality

Water quality is provided by maintaining the chemical condition of freshwaters, including rivers, streams, lakes, and ground water sources, and salt waters to ensure favourable living conditions for biota.