Supporting services

Supporting the long-term health of the planet

Habitat creation and maintenance

Ecosystems provide different habitats that can be essential for a species’ life cycle. Habitats provide the necessary ecological conditions that an individual plant or animal needs to survive, including food, water, and shelter.  One example is the tropical coral reef ecosystem, which provides a dynamic underwater environment for fish, invertebrates and other crustaceans with food, shelter and a hiding place against predators.

Did you know?

In a March 2010 article (IUCN 2010), IUCN reported that habitat loss is the single biggest threat to European butterflies, and may lead to the extinction of several species. Habitat loss was said to occur most often as a result of changes in agricultural practice, climate change, forest fires, and expansion of tourism.


Photosynthesis is the process by which plants combine carbon dioxide (removed from the atmosphere) with water and light energy from the sun to produce glucose and oxygen which sustain our life on Earth.

Nutrient cycle

Nutrient cycling is one of the most important processes that occurs in an ecosystem. The nutrient cycle describes the use, movement, and recycling of nutrients in the environment.

Nutrients move from the physical environment into living organisms and are then recycled back into the environment.

Water cycle

Nature helps maintain the water cycle that involved the continuous circulation of water in the earth-atmosphere system. It helps to regulate the flow and purification of water, while vegetation (e.g. forests) also influence the quantity of water available locally. 

Soil formation

Nature provides for the formation and maintenance of soil structure and processes (such as decomposition and nutrient cycling) that underlie the continued fertility of soils, which supports soil micro-organisms and plant growth.

Maintenance of genetic diversity

Nature provides for the maintenance of genetic diversity, which is the variety of genes between and within species populations. Genetic diversity facilitates the health and viability of populations of living beings and protects them from diseases and extinction.

Did you know?

In the Philippines, an initiative to conserve local varieties of rice aided in the development of rice strains that are better adapted to local conditions – giving greater yield, an improved quality seed supply, and decreasing dependence on plant breeders – at a much lower cost than that of formal plant breeding (SEARICE 2007).

Click on the orange dots for some examples of supporting ecosystem services from trees:

Trees provide a safe place for birds to nest

The roots of trees and plants help prevent erosion, keeping water clean and supporting river banks

Plants provide us with fresh air