Topic 2: Supporting Services & Cultural Services

Supporting (habitat) services “are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services”. These include maintenance of biological and genetic diversity of forest ecosystems and thus the basis for most other functions. There are two main regulating services: refigium and nursery function. The followings are descriptions of supporting services from forest ecosystems.

Functions Ecosystem processes and components Goods and services (examples)
Refugium function Suitable living space for wild plants and animals Maintenance of commercially harvested timber species
Nursery function Suitable reproduction habitat Hunting, gathering of fish, game, fruits, etc. and small-scale subsistence farming & agroforestry activities by local people

Cultural services are the “non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences”. Many cultural services are associated with human activities that are carried out in a given forest area. The followings are descriptions of cultural services from forests.

Functions Ecosystem processes and components Goods and services (examples)
Aesthetic information Attractive forest landscape features Enjoyment of scenery (scenic view of forest, mountain, mangrove, trees, forest landscape, etc.)
Recreation Variety in forest landscapes with (potential) recreational uses Travel to forest ecosystems for eco-tourism, outdoor recreation, camping, hunting, etc.
Cultural and artistic information Variety in natural features of forest with cultural and artistic value Use of forest ecosystems as the motive in books, film, painting, folklore, national symbols, architect, advertising, etc.
Spiritual and historic information Variety in natural features of forest with spiritual and historic value Use of forest ecosystems for religious or historic purposes (i.e. heritage value of mangrove forest ecosystems and features, etc.)
Science and education Variety in forest area with scientific and educational value Use of forest ecosystems for school excursions, environmental education program, public awareness program, scientific research, etc.

Read and understand the following presentation:

Supporting Services

[SUFES_05_Module_II_Slides _2 Supporting 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.

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.

Please answer the following self-reflection questions. You can formulate your responses and share them online in the Knowledge Café for this course, and also glean knowledge from other students’ responses.

SrQ#2.2: Identify an important ecosystem service for a given forest ecosystem in your country. Can you identify the 3-5 most important supporting and cultural services? Which ecosystem services’ values are well reflected in markets and which are not?

SrQ#2.3: Can you identify appropriate measures and indicators of status for these supporting and cultural services?