Ecosystem Services

What do we mean by ecosystem services?

Humankind and all life on earth is reliant on its environment for survival in many different ways. Those multiple benefits from ecological systems to our societies are known as ecosystem services.

Obvious services from the environment are fresh air and drinking water for us to enjoy every day. Less direct services include carbon storage by forests that mitigates climate change or pollination from wildlife to our food crops such apple orchards.

oulton Broad_aerialThis aerial photograph taken by Mike Page shows boating activities on Oulton Broad. Recreational services from lakes are particularly intense near towns and can have an impact on the ecology of aquatic systems. (By the way, visit Mike Page’s website where he presents his exceptional aerial photographs).

Ecosystem services studied by Lake BESS

We are including below a non-exhaustive list of ecosystem services, classified in four categories as in the Millenium Assessment (MEA, 2005. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Washington DC: Island Press.) Those services highlighted in bold are particularly relevant to lowland shallow lakes and the Lake BESS project.


  • soil formation
  • nutrient cycling
  • water cycling
  • primary production


  • food
  • fibre
  • fresh water
  • genetic resources


  • climate regulation
  • hazard regulation
  • noise regulation
  • pollination
  • disease and pest regulation
  • regulation of water, air and soil quality


  • spiritual or religious enrichment
  • cultural heritage
  • recreation and tourism
  • aesthetic experience

Learn more about ecosystem services, from other websites on the topic or from the books as follows:

  • Scheffer, M. (1997). Ecology of Shallow Water Lakes. London: Chapman and Hall.
  • George, M. (1992) Land Use, Ecology and Conservation of Broadland. Chichester: Packard Publishing.
  • Forbes, R. and Northridge, R. (2012) The Flora of County Fermanagh. Belfast: Nicholson and Bass Ltd.
  • MEA (2005). Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Washington DC: Island Press.
  • NEA (2010). UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Preliminary synthesis and progress report on status and trends.
  • Scheffer, M. (2009). Critical Transitions in Nature and Society. Princeton University Press.

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