Ecosystem services: Key concepts and applications
Occasional Paper Series No.1
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010
There has been a growing public interest in the role and value of natural ecosystems and how they
contribute to our quality of life and to human wellbeing. Ecosystems services and their continued
provision underpin human existence, health and prosperity.
Governments, communities and natural resource managers are taking a broader ecosystem
approach to decision making for natural resource management issues that can achieve multiple
benefits for landowners and society. Biodiversity is central to the production of ecosystem services;
it is the direct source of services, such as food and fibre, and underpins others, such as clean water
and air, through the role of organisms in energy and material cycles.
This paper provides an overview of the concept of ecosystem services and how they are valued.
There are both use values and non-use values that comprise the total economic value, including both
the intrinsic values of ecosystems and biodiversity and the market values of goods and services.
This paper also addresses new opportunities for developing markets for previously undervalued
ecosystem services, and gives examples of where an ecosystem approach has lead to the
achievement of multiple outcomes.