The concept of ecosystem services (ES) provides a powerful way of examining the interaction between ecosystems and human well-being. Since the seminal works of de Groot1 (1992), Daily (1997) and Costanza et al. (1997), research on ES and natural capital (NC) has grown significantly. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005), TEEB (2010, 2011) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have brought the concepts into broader environmental planning and policy arenas. The ideas are now seen as relevant in European regulatory frameworks and policies for biodiversity, sustainable land and water use, climate change mitigation, ecosystem restoration and the design of green infrastructure.


An understanding of ES and NC can also inform policy relating to agriculture, fisheries and forestry as well as efforts to address resource efficiency. Finally, the concepts are relevant to business investment decisions and policies relating to corporate social responsibility because poor management of NC can affect business costs and risks, and hence opportunities to improve the competitiveness of companies, regions and countries.