Southwest Environment

Stories written by University of Arizona students

Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science
The Stories

A closer look at ecosystem services

Adapted by Jesus Antonio Gonzalez from the Ecosystem Services Project website

Ecosystem services are the benefits that society finds in nature. The conservation of these essential benefits is the goal. These benefits can be grouped into different categories: regulating, provisioning, cultural and supporting.

Regulating Services
These are the benefits obtained from nature that regulate certain components that may be harmful to humans.  Issues involving air quality, water mitigation, climate, erosion, pollination, and pest control all fall into this category.  Regulating services allow society to save money on otherwise laborious processes, such as treating water for impurities.

Provisioning Service
These are the benefits of nature that affect food supply, and other natural resources used to keep a fast-paced society functioning – fuels, medicine, and chemical compounds, for instance.  Conserving the crops, plants and other natural processes is essential to maintaining this service.

Cultural Service
These are the benefits of nature that directly affect human health, spirituality, and mentality.  These services are experienced through physical activities, such as hiking, in a natural setting.They can be involved anywhere the aesthetics of an area is given value.

Supporting Services

This service is essential for the other services to function.  It provides the foundation and essential components for the other services to exist.  These services include the role of soil, plant productivity, and the cycling of water and nutrients within an ecosystem.

For more information, see the Ecosystem Services website at

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