Cultural services

Nature’s gifts that enrich our lives


Green and open spaces provide opportunities for activities that are physically and psychologically beneficial, for example  recreation, relaxation, leisure, tourism and aesthetic enjoyment based on the close contact with nature (e.g. hiking, playing sports, bird watching, snorkeling, gardening).

Did you know?

Harmful pollutants removed by nature include O3, CO, SO2, NO2 , and particulate pollutants as well as CO2.

Improved mental and physical health

Exposure to the natural environment can have a range of physical, psychological and social benefits that can contribute to improved physical and mental health. Walking and playing sports in green spaces is a good form of exercise and also creates an opportunity for people to relax.

Spiritual experience and sense of place

Nature creates opportunities for people to develop a sense of place, belonging, purpose, rootedness or connectedness, associated with different elements of the natural world (e.g. cultural and heritage landscapes, sounds, scents and sights associated with childhood experiences, iconic animals, trees or plants). Nature also provides the basis for rituals and celebrations as well as for culturally important narratives.

Community cohesion

Green spaces provide people with opportunities for socializing with family and friends, as well as create social-cohesion experiences. In addition, this provides a health benefit through social interaction.

Learning and inspiration

The natural environment provides for the development of capabilities that enable humans to prosper through education, learning and acquiring knowledge, developing skills for well-being, scientific information and technological design (e.g. biomimicry).

Aesthetic appreciation and inspiration for culture, art and design

Natural landscapes, biodiversity and ecosystems have been the source of inspiration for much of the global population’s art, culture and design.

Did you know?

Prehistoric rock art of southern Africa, Australia, and Europe, and other similar examples throughout the world, present evidence of how nature has inspired art and culture since very early in human history. Contemporary culture, art and design are similarly inspired by nature.

Sustainable livelihoods

Nature provides many of the resources (e.g. crops) and materials (e.g. wood) needed to sustain livelihoods and economic activities. Many poorer communities are directly dependent on nature for their survival and trade.


Nature plays an important role for many kinds of tourism which in turn provides substantial economic benefits and is a vital source of income for many countries. Cultural and eco-tourism also educates people about the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity.

Did you know?

Based on the amounts of money tourists spent on travel and local expenditure to visit coral reefs in Hawaii, it was estimated that the value associated with these reefs amounted to US$97 million per year (TEEBcase by van Beukering and Cesar 2010). This illustrates how reef tourism resulted in significant income generation for individuals, companies, and countries.

Click on the orange dots for some examples of cultural ecosystem services:

Natural spaces attract tourists who then boost the local economy

Nature has been proven to have a positive affect on our mental health

Being closer to nature makes it easy for people to experience its benefits and exercise outdoors