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Wetland services (services)

Services provide links between the components and processes of an ecosystem and beneficiaries, highlighting the interconnectedness within a social-ecological system. For example, wetlands can influence local climatic effects to make the environment more pleasant for humans, such as through evaporation of water that can help to form mist, fog, and rain and provide a local cooling effect.

A Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework (Framework) has been developed to incorporate wetland values and services into decision-making.

The artificial Curralea and Keyatta (Paradise) Lakes, which are designed to reduce peak flow from the Townsville suburbs of Hyde Park, Gulliver, Currajong and Vincent - photo by Alana Lorimer.

Quick facts

Wetland services

can be provided by both the biotic (e.g. living) and abiotic (e.g. non-living) parts of an ecosystem[3]. Understanding the biotic and abiotic services that a wetland provides is essential for determining rehabilitation outcomes.

What are services and why are they important?

Ecosystem services are the contributions that ecosystems make to human well-being (e.g. 'what ecosystems do' for people), and are separate from the goods and benefits that people derive from them[9].

Identifying and understanding the services that an ecosystem provides is an essential part of informing research and management using the Framework.

For instance, when rehabilitating wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems, services are identified as one of the first step. The identified services are then used to inform the needs and objectives of rehabilitation activities, to improve the ability of the components and processes of the wetland or aquatic ecosystem to deliver these services.

Natural capital

Natural capital is the stock of renewable and non-renewable resources, including trees, soils, air, water, and flora and fauna. These assets generate flows of goods and services such as timber, food, recreational opportunities to people. In the case of renewable resources these assets can be maintained so they deliver flows of free good and services to people in perpetuity. Thinking of the environment as an asset can include calculating the maintenance payments necessary to ensure the asset does not depreciate[4].

Natural capital accounting (also referred to environmental accounting or environmental economic accounting) is one method of tracking how well society is protecting environmental assets to make sure they do not decline over time.

How are services classified and valued?

Several frameworks exist for identifying and classifying services. These frameworks have been used in natural resource management and can inform environmental policy[6] because services are valued by humans (who are beneficiaries). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment ((MA) 2005)[7] was the first assessment to focus on the impacts of ecosystem changes for human well-being, and serves as the basis for other classification frameworks, such as the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES)[3] and the National Framework and Guidance for Describing the Ecological Character of Australian Ramsar Wetlands[1].

Other classification frameworks, such as the National Ecosystem Services Classification System Plus (NESCS Plus)[12], Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS)[2], and System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA EA)[11], provide a direct connection for valuing services (e.g. assigning a monetary value to services). NESCS Plus, FEGS, and SEEA are environmental accounting systems that identify the biophysical components of an ecosystem that people use, enjoy, or appreciate to fulfill a specific interest (e.g. what humans value)[2]. Without an attached value (e.g. social, cultural, or monetary), it is difficult to make services relevant to decision-making[12][2][11].

Some classification frameworks categorise services from an ecocentric viewpoint (e.g. begin with the components of an ecosystem, then move through to processes, services, and values), while others emphasise the anthropocentric viewpoint (e.g. begin with human values, then move through to services, processes and components).

A comprehensive set of wetland ecosystem services using CICES as the basis is provided.

A description of several of the classification frameworks for ecosystem services, including their purpose, approach, outputs, and emphasis (e.g. ecocentric vs. anthropocentric).





MA (2005)[7]

Examines how changes in ecosystem services influence human well-being

Focuses on the linkages between ecosystems and human well-being through “ecosystem services”. Identifies provisioning services that provide food, water, timber, and fiber; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling.


CICES v5.1[3]

Provides a common naming and classification system of services to support ecosystem accounting frameworks

Uses a hierarchical framework that classifies services that arise from biotic (e.g. living) and abiotic (e.g. non-living) processes and identifies both the purposes or uses that people have for the different kinds of ecosystem service andthe particular ecosystem attributes or behaviours that support them


Australian Government’s Ramsar guideline[1]

Outlines a nationally agreed framework for describing the ecological character of Australia’s Ramsar-listed wetlands

Follows the MA (2005) and focuses on the linkages between Ramsar-listed wetlands and human well-being, including identifying provisioning services such as food, water, timber, and fibre; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits; and supporting services such as soil formation, photosynthesis, and nutrient cycling


NESCS Plus[12]

Provides a framework for identifying how ecosystem service changes, resulting from policy-induced changes to ecosystems, impact human welfare[12][8].

The NESCS Plus answers the questions “Where”, “What”, “How,” and “Who?” by using categories and numeric codes to identify flows of final ecosystem services (i.e. links the direct, biophysical components of nature that are directly beneficial to or directly valued/used by humans (i.e. ecological end-products (EEPs)) to human production processes or to human well-being).



Identifies, organises and accounts for the subset of ecosystem services (services) that are directly used, enjoyed, or appreciated by people (e.g. FEGS)[5]

The FEGS approach identifies final goods and services using the following steps:

  • Understand how and where (in what ecosystem type) beneficiaries use, enjoy, or appreciate nature (e.g. identify what matters directly to the beneficiary – there may be a number of things)
  • Identify the beneficiary (e.g. individual (i.e. person, group, and/or firm) who enjoys, consumes, or uses nature)
  • Identify the the FEGS (also referred to as ecological-end products[10]) that beneficiaries use, enjoy, and/or appreciate (Attribute)
  • Describe where the EEP is located (i.e. within what ecosystem type) that is used, enjoyed, or appreciated (e.g. Sub-attribute, ideal metrics)



A spatially based, integrated statistical framework for organising biophysical information about ecosystems, measuring ecosystem services, tracking changes in ecosystem extent and condition, valuing ecosystem services and assets and linking this information to measures of economic and human activity

Uses five core accounts to answer overarching questions about the relationship between the economy, society, and the environment and how to measure well-being and social progress. SEEA EA applies the concept of exchange values in line with standard economic accounting principles and to support comparison to standard economic and financial data. SEEA EA does not measure social values that cannot be assigned a monetary value.



Payment for ecosystem services involves extensive and complicated modelling.

How do frameworks group services?

The MA, CICES, and the Australian Government’s Ramsar guideline follow the same general themes for categorising services:

  • provisioning,
  • regulating (CICES combines “regulation and maintenance services”), and
  • cultural services.

The Australian Government’s Ramsar guideline (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008) and the MA (2005) frameworks also identify 'supporting services'. CICES (v5.1) and SEEA does not include supporting services because these services are ecosystem processes, rather than services[3].

Pages under this section


  1. ^ a b Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2008), National Framework and Guidance for Describing the Ecological Character of Australia’s Ramsar Wetlands. Module 2 of the National Guidelines for Ramsar Wetlands: Implementing the Ramsar Convention in Australia.. [online], Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.. Available at:
  2. ^ a b c DeWitt, TH, Berry, WJ, Canfield, TJ, Fulford, RS, Harwell, MC, Hoffman, JC, Johnston, JM, Newcomer-Johnson, TA, Ringold, PL, Russell, MJ, Sharpe, LA & Yee, SH (2020), 'The Final Ecosystem Goods & Services (FEGS) Approach: A Beneficiary-Centric Method to Support Ecosystem-Based Management', in T G O’Higgins, M Lago & T H DeWitt (eds), Ecosystem-Based Management, Ecosystem Services and Aquatic Biodiversity : Theory, Tools and Applications. [online], Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 127-145. Available at:
  3. ^ a b c d Haines-Young, R & Potschin, MB (2018), Common international classification of ecosystem services (CICES) V5. 1 and guidance on the application of the revised structure. . .. [online], European Environment Agency (EEA). Available at:
  4. ^ Helm, D (7 January 2019), 'Natural capital: assets, systems, and policies', Oxford Review of Economic Policy. [online], vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 1-13. Available at: [Accessed 29 June 2023].
  5. ^ a b Landers, DH & Nahlik, AM (2013), Final ecosystem goods and services classification system (FEGS-CS). [online], vol. EPA/600/R-13/ORD-004914., United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).. Available at: [Accessed 22 September 2020].
  6. ^ Matzdorf, B & Meyer, C (May 2014), 'The relevance of the ecosystem services framework for developed countries’ environmental policies: A comparative case study of the US and EU', Land Use Policy. [online], vol. 38, pp. 509-521. Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2021].
  7. ^ a b Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. [online], Island Press, Washington, DC.. Available at:
  8. ^ Newcomer-Johnson, T, Andrews, F, Corona, J, DeWitt, TH, Harwell, MC, Rhodes, C, Ringold, P, Russell, MJ & Van Houtven, G (2020), National Ecosystem Services Classification System (NESCS) Plus. [online], vol. EPA/600/R20/267, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Available at:
  9. ^ The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands (2013). [online], Institute for European Environmental Policy Ramsar Secretariat, Gland. Available at:–-how-much-is-a.
  10. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2020), Metrics for national and regional assessment of aquatic, marine, and terrestrial final ecosystem goods and services. [online], vol. EPA645/R-20-002, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Available at:
  11. ^ a b c UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (2021), System of Environmental-Economic Accounting—Ecosystem Accounting: Final Draft. [online], United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs Statistics Division. Available at:
  12. ^ a b c d US Environmental Protection Agency (2015), National Ecosystem Services Classification System (NESCS): Framework Design and Policy Application. [online], vol. PA/800/R-15/002, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC, U.S.A.. Available at:

Last updated: 14 November 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2022) Wetland services (services), WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation