Ecosystem Services are:

The direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human wellbeing.

Ecosystem services fall into four main categories:

  • Provisioning services, including wood, fresh water, clean air, etc.
  • Regulatory services, including climate regulation, water purification, pollination, etc
  • Habitat services, including habitat for insects on trees, water bodies for birds, etc
  • Cultural services, including recreation and wellbeing

What has this got to do with trees in the Chew Valley? Trees fall into all four of these categories, they provide wood and non-wood products, they help regulate climate, they provide habitat for insects and birds and they inspire us. They do many other things too. 

The ecosystem services provided by woodlands have value. Finding a way to use that value is a potential way to pay for the services and for landowners to get a return on their woodland investment. This is what ecosystem services market places do and is related to the government’s “public money for public goods” approach. 

Putting a value on all of nature is not universally appealing or desirable and may have perverse consequences. Many things have an intrinsic value that can’t be valorised or marketed. However, used carefully ecosystem services may provide the mechanism to create a new nature based economy. The government’s Woodland Carbon Code and Woodland Carbon Units are steps in this direction.