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Environmental Services

  • By: Paul C. Sutton
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Environmental services are processes and functions provided by the Earth's myriad environments and ecosystems that sustain the human condition. The characterization, definition, mapping, and economic valuation of environmental services (also commonly referred to as ecosystem services) constitute a very active research area at the dawn of the 21st century.

One example of these services includes the pollination of crops and nonagricultural plants by bees and other pollinating species. The disappearance or extinction of bees alone would represent the loss of a nonmarketed ecosystem service that would have profound and painful impacts on the human condition. Another example is the erosion control services provided to various extents by vegetation. This example demonstrates how there can be a spatial dependence of the value of various ecosystem services. For ...

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