Ecosystem Services

The land is the most crucial component of the built environment. It should be carefully planned, designed, developed and maintained to protect and enhance the benefits we derive from healthy functioning ecosystems.

Ecosystem services can be realized at any level. The home landscape, raised bed veggie garden, the farm, or an entire city. They represent the goods and services of direct or indirect benefit to humans that are produced by ecosystem processes involving the interaction of living elements, such as vegetation and soil organisms, and non-living elements, such as bedrock, water, and air.


Global climate regulation

Maintaining balance of atmospheric gases at historic levels, creating breathable air, and sequestering greenhouse gases

Ex: Amending soils with biochar. Residential, commercial, farm.

Local climate regulation

Regulating local temperature, precipitation, and humidity through shading, evapotranspiration, and windbreaks

A holistic approach to the landscape, farm, garden.

Air and water cleansing

Removing and reducing pollutants in air and water

Design and maintain the landscape/farm/garden with pollution control in mind. Remove or mitigate contaminants.

Water supply and regulation

Storing and providing water within the landscape/farm/garden and on the larger scale - watersheds and aquifers

Erosion and sediment control

Retaining soil within an ecosystem, preventing damage from erosion and siltation

Hazard mitigation

Reducing vulnerability to damage from flooding, storm surge, fire, and drought


Providing for pollinator species aiding in reproduction of crops or other plants

Habitat functions

Providing refuge and reproduction habitat to plants and animals, thereby contributing to conservation of biological and genetic diversity and evolutionary processes

Waste decomposition and treatment

Breaking down waste and cycling nutrients

Human health and well-being benefits

Enhancing physical, mental, and social wellbeing as a result of interaction with nature

Food and renewable non-food products

Producing food, fuel, energy, medicine, or other products for human use

Cultural benefits

Enhancing cultural, educational, aesthetic, and spiritual experiences as a result of interaction with nature

Content provided by: Sustainable Sites Initiative