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Ecosystem Services

Money in a Stream Bank: Ecosystem Service Markets in Oregon

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Gary Halvorson
(Oregon State Archives)

Ecosystem Services are the processes by which the environment produces resources and the tangible benefits that people obtain from those resources. This transformation of natural assets into services that humans value has been separated into 4 basic groups by the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA):

  • Provisioning Services include: food, fiber, genetic resources, and fresh water
  • Regulating Services include: regulation of climate, water, and some human disease
  • Cultural Services include: spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, education, recreation, cultural experience, and aesthetic value
  • Supporting Services are necessary for the production of all other Ecosystem Services and include: biomass production, pollination, production of atmospheric oxygen, soil formation and retention, nutrient cycling, water cycling, and provisioning of habitat.

For more information see Millenium Ecosystem Assessment reports.

Every year government, businesses and communities spend hundreds of millions of dollars on environmental mitigation and restoration in Oregon. The resulting work targets a very limited range of highly visible environmental problems required to be addressed by specific state and federal regulations. Voluntary expenditures, by contrast, target issues of concern to whomever provides the funds. Significant financial investments in ecosystem conservation and restoration are necessary to move Oregon towards a sustainable future in which healthy and resilient ecosystems are the foundation of healthy communities and economies, generating a high quality of life for all Oregonians.