The concept of « ecosystem services » was endorsed by the Millennium Eco-system Assessment (2005, MEA, chap.1, p.27) as proposed by Daily and al.(1997):« Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems ».
4 types of services distinguished by the MEA:
- Support services (e.g. primary production)
- Regulation services (e.g. pollination)
- Provision services (e.g. freshwater provision)
- Cultural services (e.g. inspirational)
This definition of this classification is subject of controversy. They brought various authors (e.g. Fisher and al (2009), Johnston and Russell (2011)) to separate the concept of service to the benefit obtained by humans, services then being restricted to ecological phenomena. These authors classify ecosystem services into two categories only:
- Intermediary services, not directly useful to humans (e.g. pollination, primary production)
- Final services, directly useful to humans (e.g. freshwater provision, storm protection)
Lamarque and al. (2011) identify also more or less synonymous around the term « ecosystem services ». Thus, some work employ the terms « ecosystem function », « environmental services » and « environmental goods ».
The ecosystem services study of Tancoigne Barbier and al. (2014) has defined a query which allows to find the projects about ecosystem services:
This study also enabled to establish lists of words concerning forms, research themes and entities of ecosystem services.