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The Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) Framework and Metrics

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United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA)

Latest documentation


Designed for use in

The FEGS Framework and Metrics were developed by the U.S. EPA but has been applied internationally.



Assessment purpose

Processes and components, Values/Services

Assessment criteria

Socio-cultural, Ecosystem/habitat

Method type

Desktop, expert panel, consultation


Medium-long term


Landscape/Catchment, Region, Site/habitat

Wetland system

Estuarine, Groundwater, Lacustrine, Marine, Palustrine, Riverine

Description and method logic

Method purpose

The FEGS Framework[1] is a beneficiary[2]-centric framework to identify, organise, and account for the subset of ecosystem services (services)[3] that are directly used, enjoyed, or appreciated by people (e.g. FEGS)[4]. The FEGS Framework begins with identifying the environmental class and beneficiary of a final ecosystem good or service (FEGS) and works backwards to identify the biophysical attributes of ecosystems (e.g. “final endpoints”) that are of greatest relevance to people who care about or depend on those ecosystems (e.g. beneficiaries).


The FEGS Framework is a useful tool to communicate with stakeholders and policymakers about how people obtain benefits from biophysical attributes of an ecosystem. Individual FEGS are the biophysical attributes of an ecosystem that are used, enjoyed, or appreciated for a specific purpose.

Method logic

In the FEGS Framework, people are grouped into beneficiary classes (e.g. agricultural users) and sub-classes (e.g., livestock grazers, irrigators) that describe their interests (e.g. how they consume, use, or appreciate ecosystem goods or services, such as through farming or watering crops)[1]. Then, the ways that a beneficiary uses an ecosystem determines the biophysical FEGS (e.g. water for growing crops).

The FEGS Framework answers the following questions:
  • Who are the beneficiaries and what do they use, appreciate, or enjoy about the habitat (final ecosystem good or service)?
  • How and where (i.e. in what ecosystem type(s)) do they use, enjoy, or appreciate nature?)

The steps for identifying FEGS are:

1.     Understand how and where (in what ecosystem type (i.e. Environmental Class or Sub-class)) beneficiaries use, enjoy, or appreciate nature (e.g. identify what matters directly to the beneficiary – there may be several things)
2.     Identify the beneficiary (e.g. individual (i.e. person, group, and/or firm) that enjoys, consumes, or uses nature)
3.     Identify the FEGS (also referred to as ecological-end products (EEPs)[5]) that beneficiaries use, enjoy, and/or appreciate (e.g. a biophysical attribute, such as water)

The FEGS Framework focuses on final goods and services and does not include the ecological components[6] or processes[7] that are necessary to produce it (e.g. intermediate processes)[8]. Additionally, FEGS for one beneficiary (e.g. water temperature for an aquaculturalist) may be an intermediate process for another (e.g. a recreational angler). Using a FEGS approach ensures that the full range of benefits provided by an ecosystem are considered.

Metrics and indicators (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2020) can be used in a specific area to identify, quantify, and measure the EEPs, or the biophysical attributes produced by an ecosystem before it is used, appreciated, or enjoyed by a beneficiary. Metrics can be ideal (e.g. metrics consistent with FEGS that are in the right location for the relevant beneficiary) or available (e.g. surrogates for ideal metrics, can be intermediate ecosystem goods, economic goods or other social measures). For example, for the attribute of “water” in wetlands, an ideal metric for a kayaker who wants to ensure the water is safe for kayaking could be “wetland contamination metrics” and an available metric could be “levels of harmful bacteria” for the wetland they are kayaking in.

Metrics are defined:

Step 1. Ecosystem Delineation (i.e. The boundaries of an ecosystem)
Step 2. Beneficiary Specification (i.e. describe the beneficiaries to be considered for each ecosystem)
Step 3. Attribute Specification (i.e. identify the biophysical components of nature that links with the ecosystem service and beneficiaries’ interests)
Step 4. Metric Specification (i.e. describe the units of the attribute and discuss the difference between ideal and available metrics)
Step 5. Data Availability (i.e. consider the availability of appropriately scaled data for the proposed metric)

Criteria groupings of the method

FEGS are grouped by:
  • Environmental Class and Sub-class
  • Beneficiary Categories and Sub-categories

Metrics and indicators for FEGS are grouped by (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2020):
  • Environmental Classes and Sub-Classes
  • Beneficiary Categories and Sub-Categories
  • Attribute Categories and Sub-Categories

Data required

  • Ecosystem boundaries (i.e. how to identify the Environmental Class or Sub-Class with which the beneficiary is associated)
  • Beneficiary data (e.g. who is using the ecosystem)
  • Knowledge and understanding of how beneficiaries use an ecosystem
  • Knowledge about what matters to/is valued by a beneficiary
  • Knowledge about the biophysical attributes of the ecosystem of interest
  • How to measure the biophysical attributes (if applicable)

Resources required

Expertise required

  • Social science expertise for identifying beneficiaries and understanding how these groups use the ecosystem of interest
  • In-depth knowledge about the biophysical attributes of an ecosystem

Materials required

  • Access to beneficiaries to understand how they are using the ecosystem
  • Microsoft Office or similar product that can read/edit Excel spreadsheets (e.g. Google Sheets)
  • Computing resources

Method outputs


  • List of FEGS for ecosystems in a specified area that ensures that a full range of benefits are considered in decision-making
  • Set of metrics and indicators for measuring FEGS for ecosystems in a specified area


  • Categorising beneficiaries to specify who the stakeholders are and whose wants, needs, desires, and perceptions need to be addressed
  • Informing the selection of metrics or indicators for identifying, communicating, and quantifying the ecological attributes for assessing or monitoring FEGS, their production, or their use or appreciation by people
  • Informing models for producing FEGS, modelling the delivery of benefits to people, and for integrated ecological-social well-being frameworks
  • Can be used alongside spatial mapping
  • Integrating FEGS into Structured Decision Making (SDM)
  • Integrating FEGS into ecosystem-based management

Criteria by category


    • Beneficiary categories (User group)
      • Agricultural (e.g. irrigators, farmers)
      • Commercial/Industrial (e.g. food extractors, industrial processors)
      • Commercial/Military Transportation (e.g. transporters of goods, transporters of people)
      • Government, Municipal, and Residential (e.g. municipal drinking water plant operators, residential property owners)
      • Humanity (e.g. all humans)
      • Inspirational (e.g. spiritual and ceremonial participants and participants of celebration, artists)
      • Learning (e.g. educators and students, researchers)
      • Non-use (e.g. people who care (existence), people who care (option/bequest)
      • Recreational (e.g. experiencers and viewers, anglers)
      • Subsistence (e.g. water subsisters, food subsisters)


    • Environmental classes
      • Aquatic (e.g. rivers, streams, wetlands)
      • Atmospheric (e.g. atmosphere)
      • Terrestrial (e.g. forests, grasslands)


Recommended user

Users from the public sector, private sector, non-profit organisations, land managers, governments, environmental accountants, researchers, policymakers


  • Provides meaningful measures for stakeholders’ values
  • Identifies the beneficiaries and how they are affected by changes to a specific area or ecosystem
  • Identifies experiences to help decision-makers understand trade-offs that may be associated with policy decisions or options
  • Provides information on where and how beneficiaries derive FEGS from biophysical features of the ecosystem
  • Recognises that all ecosystems are inherently social-ecological systems
  • Connects to other classification frameworks


  • Does not account for all non-use values (e.g. intrinsic values)
  • Does not consider intermediate processes (e.g. the ecosystem components or processes required to produce a FEGS)
  • Does not provide links to the components and processes of ecosystems that drive the ecosystem itself

Case studies



  1. ^ 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].
  2. ^ Department of Environment and Science, Q (2022), Beneficiaries and stakeholders. [online] Available at:
  3. ^ Department of Environment and Science, Q (2022), Wetland services (services). [online] Available at:
  4. ^ 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:
  5. ^ 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:
  6. ^ Department of Environment and Science, Q (2013), Plants, animals, soils, water and more (components). [online] Available at:
  7. ^ Department of Environment and Science, Q (2013), How wetlands function (processes). [online] Available at:
  8. ^ 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:

Last updated: 9 December 2022

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2022) The Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) Framework and Metrics, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science