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The Ecosystem services> concept was popularised by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA)(2001-2005) and we follow their definition: “The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. The concept “ecosystem goods and services” is synonymous with ecosystem services (ES).

The MEA distinguished four categories (figure 1): provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a global initiative focused on “making nature’s values visible”, with the objective to mainstream the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services into decision-making at all levels, used a similar ES classification.

The European Commission Working Group on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) is developing the detailed Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) classification system for mapping purposes in which the supporting and regulating services are combined in one regulating and maintenance class.