Human Health as an Ecosystem Service: A Conceptual Framework

  • Karen Levy
  • Gretchen Daily
  • Samuel S. Myers


To live in good health and, in many ways, to live at all, people need a wide array of life-support benefits that derive from ecosystems. Collectively these are called ecosystem services, a term referring to the conditions and processes through which ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1981; Daily 1997; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). These processes underpin the production of goods (such as seafood and timber), life-support functions (water purification and flood control), and life-fulfilling conditions (beauty and inspiration), as well as the preservation of options (such as genetic diversity for future use).


Ecosystem Service Natural Hazard West Nile Virus Mangrove Forest Water Treatment Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Much of the content of this chapter was discussed in a workshop held at Stanford University in December, 2008. During this workshop, the authors received very constructive input from K. Arkema, B. Brosi, J. Davis, P Ehrlich, D. Ennaanay, R. Gould, A. Luers, H. Mooney, and G. Schoolnik.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public HealthEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Conservation Biology, Department of BiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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