Ecosystem Services


Ecosystem Services

What are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem sevices

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment defined Ecosystem Services as “the benefits people derive from ecosystems”. Besides provisioning services or goods like food, wood and other raw materials, plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms provide essential regulating services such as pollination of crops, prevention of soil erosion and water purification, and a vast array of cultural services, like recreation and a sense of place..

In spite of the ecological, cultural and economic importance of these services, ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpins them are still being degraded and lost at an unprecedented scale. One major reason for this is that the value (importance) of ecosystems to human welfare is still underestimated and not fully recognized in every day planning and decision-making, in other words, the benefits of their services are not, or only partly, captured in conventional market economics. Furthermore, the costs of externalities of economic development (e.g. pollution, deforestation) are usually not accounted for, while inappropriate tax and subsidy (incentive) systems encourage the over-exploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources and other ecosystem services at the expense of the poor and future generations.


Objective of the CEM Thematic Group on Ecosystem Services

The overall objective of this Thematic Group is to improve the knowledge base on ecosystem services and their values, and stimulate the integration of this knowledge in planning and decision making for sustainable ecosystem management.

Specific Objectives

Planned Activities

To achieve these objectives, the CEM Ecosystem Service Thematic Group aims to create a global network of knowledge bases and case studies in order to develop best practice guidelines for the sustainable management of ecosystems, with the further aim of demonstrating real life applications of the ‘ecosystem services concept’ and that investing in nature conservation and restoration ‘pays’!

IUCN Linkages

Due to the wide range of disciplines involved with the Ecosystem Services theme, the CEM-ES Thematic Group (TG) will be working together closely with other CEM thematic groups, on cross-cutting issues, including the Ecosystem Red List TG; Ecosystem Restoration TG; Ecosystem and the Private Sector TG and Ecosystem Approach TG.

In addition, collaboration will be explored with other IUCN commissions, partnerships and regional offices including the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR).

Global Partnerships

The CEM Ecosystem Services theme will work together closely with the main international organizations, among others:

Workshops and Meetings 2016

22-28 February - Fourth Session of the IPBES Plenary (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

25 April-7 May - CBD 20th Meeting of SBSTTA (Montreal, Canada)

1-10 September - IUCN World Conservation Congress (Honolulu, Hawaii)

4-17 December - CBD Conference of the Parties 13 (Cancun, Mexico)

Thematic Group Leads

Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham, Tel-Aviv University. Based in New York, United States ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Sasha Alexander, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Special Advisor

Rudolf de Groot, Wageningen University, The Netherlands ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )