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Ecosystem services are the direct or indirect contributions that ecosystems make to human well-being. Although ecosystem processes and functions exist whether or not humans benefit from them, these relationships generate ecosystem services only if they contribute to human well-being.
The Millennium Assessment (MEA 2005) divides these services in to four categories:

  • supporting,
  • regulating
  • provisioning
  • cultural services
Brown et al. (2007) distinguish between ecosystem structure, ecosystem processes, and ecosystem goods and services.
  • Ecosystem structure includes the physical and biological components of the ecosystem itself, such as the quantity of water in a reservoir, the soil characteristics, or the density of trees (Moore et al, 2011)
  • Ecosystem processes link the components of structure with function. For example, water supply and wildlife growth are ecosystem functions that depend on the underlying ecosystem structure.
  • Ecosystem processes support the production of ecosystem goods and services.

Distinction can also be made between ecosystem goods and ecosystem services.

  • Ecosystem goods are the tangible products of nature, such as timber, minerals, water, and wildlife. Ecosystem goods more easily identified as the direct benefits to society.  In other words, people can “see” what they are getting.
  • ecosystem services are less recognized aspects of nature’s services. For example improvements or maintenance of the condition of ecosystem services such as cleansing, recycling, and renewal which provide many intangible aesthetic and cultural benefits that are difficult to “value”.
It should be noted that ecosystem services are dependent on underlying ecosystem structure and function that may or may not be recognized by society.
Decision Tree

We acknowledge the distinction between ecosystem goods and ecosystem services, but for brevity, on this site we will refer to these collectively as ecosystem services.

We would like to measure all Cockpit Country Ecosystem service values. But note that we are not trying to measure the costs of social impacts nor the opportunity costs relating to alternative community development strategies.

Though in principle, all ecosystem services can be valued, we are constrained by money and time.
The decision tree on the left can be used for each ecosystem service (A complete list of Cockpit Country Ecosystem services is available here). The appropriate valuation tool will then be selected, with Market Valuation being easiest (i.e. cheaper, quicker) and robust while surveys are hardest but can capture the Consumer Surplus.
The list in the blue box shows those ecosystem services which satisfied the above procedure