WCS Global Initiatives

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services refer to the many different benefits that nature provides to people and society. Four commonly recognized categories of services are: supporting services such as nutrient cycling, soil formation, and primary production; provisioning services which include food, medicine, fuel, drinking water, and materials; regulating services which include the control of pests, disease, disasters, climate, and water quality/quantity; and cultural services which include the spiritual, aesthetic and recreational values of nature, to name but a few examples. All of these services support different human needs.

Despite the importance of ecosystem services for supporting individuals, society and economies, the ability of nature to continue providing all of these benefits is challenged by pressures such as over-consumption of species and natural resources, habitat loss such as deforestation, climate change, and pollution. These factors can hinder the ability of people to access and receive critical goods and services from ecosystems. While these changes may affect many people globally, the negative impacts are often felt most acutely by many of the world’s poorest people who live in rural areas of developing countries and depend heavily on ecosystems services for their livelihoods and well-being.

WCS's Ecosystem Services Initiative works with partners to address these issues by helping natural resource managers, policy-makers, the private sector, and communities in the countries where we work identify, measure, and value the many different benefits provided by wildlife and wild places, leading to innovative, sustainable approaches for conserving ecosystem services within and beyond the land/seascapes where we focus our efforts. Through these efforts, we are promoting the integration of conservation into long-term ecosystem management and development planning and policies, thereby, ensuring the true value of natural capital is captured in markets and economies.


WCS Ecosystem Services Program
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, New York 10460