Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Photo: Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham

Thematic Group Lead
Emmanuelle Cohen-Shacham, Tel-Aviv University, New York, United States. Email:
Sasha Alexander, University of Western Australia, Email:

Special Advisor
Rudolf de Groot, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Email:



Please find here a letter from Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid, the Chair of IPBES, highlighting the achievements of IPBES-2, and inviting governments and other relevant organisations to nominate experts to contribute to the Platform's 2014 - 2018 Work Programme.

Kindly complete one form (found here) per nomination and send by email to the IPBES Secretariat ( by 28 February 2014 at the very latest, accompanied by a short version of the Curriculum Vitae and a clear indication to which work programme deliverable the nomination is made. Further instructions for the nomination process is included in the nomination template attached. Earlier nominations are encouraged and late nominations will not be able to be considered.

In addition, we are pleased to inform you that the advance English version of the IPBES-2 report and decisions adopted is now available at Other language versions will follow shortly.

With kind regards, and wishing you a very happy 2014,

IPBES Secretariat


Our Thematic Group


What are Ecosystem Services?

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ( defined Ecosystem Services as “the benefits people derive from ecosystems”. Besides provisioning services or goods like food, wood and other raw materials, plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms provide essential regulating services such as pollination of crops, prevention of soil erosion and water purification, and a vast array of cultural services, like recreation and a sense of place..

In spite of the ecological, cultural and economic importance of these services, ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpins them are still being degraded and lost at an unprecedented scale. One major reason for this is that the value (importance) of ecosystems to human welfare is still underestimated and not fully recognized in every day planning and decision-making, in other words, the benefits of their services are not, or only partly, captured in conventional market economics. Furthermore, the costs of externalities of economic development (e.g. pollution, deforestation) are usually not accounted for, while inappropriate tax and subsidy (incentive) systems encourage the over-exploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources and other ecosystem services at the expense of the poor and future generations.


Objective of the CEM Thematic Group on Ecosystem Services

The overall objective of this Thematic Group is to improve the knowledge base on ecosystem services and their values, and stimulate the integration of this knowledge in planning and decision making for sustainable ecosystem management.

Specific objectives:

- Stimulate research on the capacity and resilience of ecosystems to provide goods and services in a sustainable manner, and develop tools and guidelines for practical applications and integrated ecosystem services assessments.

- Highlight the importance (value) of ecosystem services for governments, communities and corporations; identify the users/beneficiaries (stakeholders) of ecosystem services; and stimulate partnerships and other incentive mechanisms to conserve and restore ecosystems and their services.

- Communicate the knowledge and applications of ecosystem services and values to decision makers at all scales and the general public, thus building local and political support and convincing (potential) donors that benefits of conservation, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems usually outweigh the costs.


Planned activities

To achieve these objectives, the CEM Ecosystem Service Thematic Group wants to create a global network of Ecosystem Services Assessment case studies to develop and apply guidelines and best practices for the sustainable management of ecosystems, based on the ‘ecosystem services approach’ and demonstrate that investing in nature conservation and restoration ‘pays’!

For example, PRESENCE [] (Participatory Restoration of Ecosystem Services & Natural Capital in the Eastern Cape) is a collaborative learning network aimed at guiding ecosystem management and restoration of ‘living landscapes’ in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is currently being piloted at Baviaanskloof in South Africa.

For more examples, check “Case Studies & Showcases” in


IUCN Linkages:

Due to the wide range of disciplines involved with the Ecosystem Services theme, the CEM-ES Thematic Group will be working together closely with other CEM thematic groups, on cross-cutting issues, including the CEM Ecosystem Red List Thematic Group; CEM Ecosystem Restoration Thematic Group; CEM Ecosystem and the Private Sector Thematic Group; CEM Ecosystem Approach Thematic Group.

In addition, collaboration will be explored with other IUCN commissions, partnerships and regional offices including the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR).

Global Partnerships

The CEM Ecosystem Services theme will work together closely with the main international organisations, among others:

- The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP) []: a platform that aims to enhance communication, coordination and cooperation, and to build a strong network of individuals and organizations. The ESP is chaired by Rudolf de Groot, former Lead and current Special Advisor of the Ecosystem Services Thematic Group.

- The Sub-Global Assessment (SGA) Network, coordinated by UNEP-WCMC, seeks to create a common platform for practitioners involved in ecosystem assessment at regional, sub-regional, national and sub-national levels. The intention is to promote and facilitate improved capacity in undertaking and using assessments. []

- The TEEB-follow-up network of National Assessments []

- The IPBES (the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) is a new mechanism that focuses on strengthening the interface between the scientific community and policymakers, that aims at building capacity for and strengthen the use of science in policymaking. The IPBES is proposed as a broadly similar mechanism to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). For more information:




IPBES-2: 9-14 December, Antalya, Turkey. More info.


IPBES-1: 21-26 January 2013, Bonn, Germany. More info.


7th International ESP Conference: Costa Rica, 8-12 September 2014. More info