Topic 1: Provisioning Services & Regulating Services

Forests provides direct and indirect goods and services to human well-being. Provisioning services provided by forest are the forest goods and services obtained from forest ecosystems. These include food, raw materials, genetic resources, medicinal resources, and ornamental resources. The following table provides detailed classifications of provisioning services, and indicates the functions, processes, and examples of forest goods and services.

Functions Ecosystem processes and components Goods and services (examples)
Food Conversion of solar energy into edible plants and animals Fruits, fish, fodder, and fertilizer (e.g. krill, leaves, litter)
Raw materials Conversion of solar energy into biomass for human construction and other uses Timber and manufacturing materials; improve tree crop resistance to pathogens & pests; other applications (e.g. health care)
Genetic resources Genetic material and evolution in wild plants and animals Drugs and pharmaceuticals; chemical models & tools; Test- and essay organisms
Medicinal resources Variety in (bio)chemical substances in, and other medicinal uses of, forest biota Timber and non-timber resources for fashion, handicraft, jewelry, pets, worship, decoration & souvenirs (e.g. furs, feathers, ivory, orchids, butterflies, aquarium fish, shells, etc.)
Ornamental resources Variety of biota in forest ecosystems with (potential) ornamental use  Ornamental trees from the peatswamp forest, tropical forest, and mangroves forest ecosystem

Regulating services are the “benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes”. It’s essentially the maintenance of essential ecological processes and life support systems. The followings are descriptions of regulating services from forest ecosystems.

Functions Ecosystem processes and components Goods and services (examples)
Gas regulation Role of forest ecosystems in bio-geochemical cycles (e.g. CO2/O2 balance, ozone layer, etc.) UVB-protection by O3 (preventing disease); maintenance of air quality; influence on microclimate (see also climate regulation)
Climate regulation Influence of forest cover and biological mediated processes (e.g. DMS-production) on climate Maintenance of a favorable climate (temp., precipitation, etc. for example, human habitation, health, cultivation)
Disturbance prevention Influence of forest ecosystem structure on dampening env. disturbances Coastal storm protection of mangrove forest ecosystem; flood prevention and control (e.g. by wetlands and forests)
Water regulation Role of forest cover in regulating runoff & river discharge Drainage and natural irrigation in upstream region
Water supply Filtering, retention, and storage of fresh and clean water Provision of water supply and quality for consumptive use (e.g. drinking, irrigation and industrial use)
Soil retention Role of vegetation root matrix and soil biota in soil retention Maintenance of forestland; prevention of damage from soil erosion/siltation
Soil formation Weathering of rock, accumulation of organic matter Maintenance of productivity in productive forestland; maintenance of naturally productive forest soils
Nutrient regulation Role of biota in storage and re-cycling of nutrients (eg. N,P&S) Maintenance of healthy forest soils and productive forest ecosystems
Waste treatment Role of vegetation & biota in removal or breakdown of xenic nutrients and compounds Pollution control/detoxification by mangroves; filtering of dust particles; filtering waste treatment; abatement of noise pollution
Pollination Role of biota in movement of floral gametes Pollination of wild plant species in the forest; pollination of timber species
Biological control Population control through trophic-dynamic relations Control of pests and diseases; reduction of herbivory (crop damage)

Read the following slide presentation.

Ecosystem Services
[SUFES_05_Module_II_Slides _1 Ecosystem Services.pdf to be embedded here.]

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Read the following articles:

Costanza, R., d’Arge, R., Groot, R.D., Farber, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., & Belt, M.V.D. (1997). The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature, 387, 253–260.

De Groot, R. S., Wilson, M. A., & Boumans, R. M. (2002). A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and servicesEcological Economics41(3), 393-408.

De Groot, R., Brander, L., Van Der Ploeg, S., Costanza, R., Bernard, F., Braat, L., … & Van Beukering, P. (2012). Global estimates of the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary unitsEcosystem Services1(1), 50-61.

De Groot, R., Fisher, B., Christie, Aronson, J., Braat, L., Gowdy, J., … Ring, I. (2010). Chapter 1: Integrating the ecological and economic dimensions in biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation. In P. Kumar (Ed.) The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: ecological and economic foundations. UNEP/Earthprint. Retrieved from

De Groot, R., Killen, T. J., & Portela, R. (2010). Chapter 1 Appendix 3: How the TEEB framework can be applied – The Amzaon case. In P. Kumar (Ed.) The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: ecological and economic foundations. UNEP/Earthprint. Retrieved from

Gómez-Baggethun, E., de Groot, R., Lomas, P.L., & Montes, C. (2009). The history of ecosystem services in economic theory and practice: From early notions to markets and payment schemesEcological Economics, doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.11.007.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC.: Island Press.

Mohamed-Katerere, J.C., & Smith, M. (2013). The role of ecosystems in food security. Unasylva, 64(241), 14-22.

Russi D., ten Brink P., Farmer A., Badura T., Coates D., Förster J., Kumar R., & Davidson N. (2013). The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity for water and wetlands. IEEP, London and Brussels. Gland: Ramsar Secretariat.

Stloukal, L., Holding, C., Kaaria, S., Guarascio, F., & Gunewardena, N. (2013). Forests, food security and gender. Unasylva, 64(241), 37-45.

Please answer the following self-reflection questions. After formulating your answers, you may post them online at the Knowledge Café for this course as a way to share your ideas and glean knowledge from other students’ responses.

SrQ#1.1: How do you link the interdependence of ecosystem and human well-being to achieve good quality of life?.

SrQ#1.2: Identify an important ecosystem service for a given forest ecosystem. Can you identify the 3-5 most important provisioning and regulating services? Which ecosystem services’ values are well reflected in markets and which are not?

SrQ#1.3: Can you identify appropriate measures and indicators of status for these provisioning and regulating services?