Ecosystem services are sustainable processes at work in the natural world contributing to quality of life and economic productivity. Ecosystems provide recreation, goods such as food, clothing, building materials and pharmaceuticals. They also perform highly valued services such as water purification and storage, air filtration and carbon sequestration.

Ecosystem services are the foundation of economic productivity. Protecting, enhancing, restoring or even creating (‘PERCing’) ecosystem services supports health & welfare, maintains quality of life, and creates thousands of jobs in every community worldwide.


This view of the Canaan Valley in West Virginia allows us to see the many ecosystem services produced by a typical wild landscape. The list of eco-services was published by Charles Perrings (University of Chicago) in 1992. These ecological services have enormous replacement value. But many eco-services also have day-to-day production value, as with wetland mitigation credits, carbon sequestration credits or species and habitat credits.  A 1998 appraisal identified $33 million in ecological asset value for 12,000 acres of Canaan Valley.  That was twice the value assigned using traditional appraisal (Yellow Book) methods.


Click on the visuals below to learn more about the importance of biodiversity, ecological networks and value-based ecosystem services. The videos were produced by the Khan Academy for the California Academy of Sciences.