Biodiversity delivers a variety of crucial services. These can be categorised as follows:
• Provisioning services deliver products that are essential to our daily life such as food, drugs, building materials, fibers, etc. … Just think about the fruit, vegetables or meat we eat, the substances we extract from plants or animals to battle diseases, the wood we use in construction, …
• Regulating services are those that support the functioning of our environment, such as climate regulation through enhanced evaporation or carbon dioxide uptake and fixation, the purification of water, breakdown of pollutants, or even protection against calamities: during the Indonesian tsunami of 2004, coastal zones with mangrove forests were less severely affected than zones that were deforested for constructing hotels …
• Cultural services are those non-tangible benefits that enrich our society: recreation, tourism, art, science and culture, spiritual well-being… animals and plants play an important role in our cultural tradition and legends
• Supporting services are indispensable for the production of all other ecosystem services. These include services such as water and nutrient recycling, soil formation, primary production and oxygen production, pollination,… there would be no agriculture without all of these.
You can find more information on the importance of biodiversity, in particular for us humans, in the brochure “Biodiversiteit in België: van vitaal belang / La biodiversité en Belgique : une question vitale”.