What Are Ecosystem Services?

All of life depends on a host of goods and services that ecosystems provide. These "ecosystem services" are as familiar as fisheries and pollination of crops, or as subtle as removal of harmful bacteria and stabilization of climate.

Ecosystem services are often taken for granted — until they stop working. In many cases, ecosystem services are both undervalued and poorly understood. The key to maintenance of these services is to ensure that the functional integrity of the ecosystems that provide the services remain intact. One of the most vital ecosystem services to humans is water purification.