‘Ecosystem Services’ is a term used to describe the range of benefits people derive from nature. Broadly speaking these ‘services’ may be divided into four categories:
- Provisioning Services: The supply of environmental goods from ecosystems; natural foodstuffs, medicinal products, fresh water, etc.
- Regulating Services: The role of ecosystems in regulating earth’s natural systems; water purification and stabilisation, climate/air regulation, pollination, natural hazard regulation, etc.
- Supporting Services: The services required for the generation of other ecosystem services; nutrient cycling, photosynthesis, soil formation, etc.
- Cultural Services: The non-material benefits human beings derive from natural ecosystems; their role in recreation, aesthetic and spiritual appreciation, education, etc.
By safeguarding and managing wildlife habitats such as forest, WLT and its partners also protect these vital services.
Why safeguard Ecosystem Services?
People enjoy and value nature
Habitats and species have immense intrinsic value and this alone means that we should do all we can to protect nature. Contact with nature lifts the spirits. People travel the world to experience wildlife spectacles. Membership of wildlife organisations continues to grow and nature reserves are hugely popular, testimony to the fact that people consider nature to be worth protecting.
People depend on nature
Furthermore, people cannot thrive unless nature is in good health. This is because natural habitats perform a wide variety of Ecosystem Services people simply cannot do without.
By destroying habitats, we compromise Ecosystem Services
We need to care for nature if it is to continue to underpin our well-being. Yet humanity is inadvertently doing immense damage to life on Earth, and in the process compromising our own future. By destroying or damaging natural habitats, such as tropical and temperate forests and grasslands, we are reducing the capacity of these environments to continue providing the Ecosystem Services upon which we all depend.
How WLT is protecting nature and Ecosystem Services
The WLT works with local partners in tropical countries to acquire and protect natural habitats. We do this because without careful protection these habitats and the species that live within them would be lost. This protection also maintains and restores a host of Ecosystem Services.