Ecosystems provide multiple services that benefit people. These include:
- Provisioning services -- the products obtained from an ecosystem such as food, fresh water, biological raw materials (i.e. timber, fiber, biomass fuel, and ornamental resources)
- Regulating services -- the benefits obtained from an ecosystem's control of natural processes (such as maintenance of air quality, climate regulation, water purification, pest mitigation and flood control)
- Cultural services -- the nonmaterial benefits obtained from ecosystems (such as recreational opportunities and educational and inspirational values)
- Support services -- the natural processes that maintain the other ecosystem services, (such as nutrient and water cycling, habitat and primary production.) [Definition from the World Resources Institute: http://pdf.wri.org/esr_definitions_of_ecosystem_services.pdf]
Well planned and maintained preservation of land protects these ecosystem services and prevents governments from having to artificially replace them at high costs.