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Identify existing and potential intrinsic values and ecosystem services

Components and processes of a system combine to provide the intrinsic and existence values and ecosystem services (services) that people value. Identifying and documenting the existing and potential services that a system can provide is done by identifying the components and processes of a system that generate a service. For example, for a palustrine wetland to perform denitrification for water quality improvement (a service), it must have vegetation as a carbon source, denitrifying bacteria in the soil, anoxic conditions, and hydrological processes that allow the nitrogen from inflows to engage with the wetland.

The services provided by a system are dependant on the condition of the system, and the processes affecting the system. Undertaking condition assessments (such as WetCAT) and documenting these assessments can form part of the information base required for the Framework.

Whole-of-System, Values-Based Framework locator diagram

The value of services to humans, varies depending on the human use and benefits from the environment[7]. Impacts to the services provided by an ecosystem can directly or indirectly affect a social ecological system[6]. Identifying and understanding the services that an ecosystem generates is important to help decision-makers:

  • understand how people use an ecosystem,
  • understand what is important to people,
  • serve as a framework for communicating an environment's importance to the public, and
  • help mitigate or manage the impacts of changes in services[3][1][6].

Ecosystem service assessments provide information about the services the system is providing[5]. A list of ecosystem services based on the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES)[4] has been developed for this Framework, and can be used as the basis for any ecosystem services assessment. At a system-scale, these assessments should consider:

  • how the components and processes combine to provide the services for that system
  • the condition of the system, and the processes affecting that system
  • the appropriate scale (both temporal and spatial) for the assessment
  • the stakeholders and beneficiaries of the system
  • any modifications to the system and how this might affect the provision of services
  • the best-available data and evidence[7][2]

To maximise the services provided by the system, future potential ecosystem services should be identifed, including any modification or change to components or processes to achieve these outcomes.


  1. ^ Bekessy, SA, Runge, MC, Kusmanoff, AM, Keith, DA & Wintle, BA (August 2018), 'Ask not what nature can do for you: A critique of ecosystem services as a communication strategy', Biological Conservation. [online], vol. 224, pp. 71-74. Available at: [Accessed 24 March 2021].
  2. ^ Everard, M & Waters, R (2013), Ecosystem services assessment: How to do one in practice (Version 1, October 13). [online], Institution of Environmental Sciences, London. Available at:
  3. ^ Granek, EF, Polasky, S, Kappel, CV, Reed, DJ, Stoms, DM, Koch, EW, Kennedy, CJ, Cramer, LA, Hacker, SD, Barbier, EB, Aswani, S, Ruckelshaus, M, Perillo, GM, Silliman, BR, Muthiga, N, Bael, D & Wolanski, E (2010), 'Ecosystem services as a common language for coastal ecosystem-based management.', Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology. [online], vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 207-216. Available at:
  4. ^ 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:
  5. ^ Rosenthal, A, Verutes, G, McKenzie, E, Arkema, KK, Bhagabati, N, Bremer, LL, Olwero, N & Vogl, AL (3 July 2015), 'Process matters: a framework for conducting decision-relevant assessments of ecosystem services', International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management. [online], vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 190-204. Available at: [Accessed 21 November 2021].
  6. ^ a b Slootweg, R (2021), '17. Ecosystem services in strategic environmental assessment: an integrating concept in a world of silos', in Handbook on Strategic Environmental Assessment. [online], Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 266-282. Available at:
  7. ^ a b 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: 30 June 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, Queensland (2022) Identify existing and potential intrinsic values and ecosystem services, WetlandInfo website, accessed 18 March 2024. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment, Science and Innovation