Nature's services is a term for the ways in which nature benefits humans. It means particularly those benefits that can be measured in economic terms. Robert Costanza and other theorists of natural capital analysed nature's services to humanity in the 1990s.
The economic contribution of seventeen of these services they calculated to be about US$33 trillion per year, greater than the activities of the whole human economy, which was about US$25 trillion. This was based on estimated costs of replacing the services nature provides. For that purpose they were compared with equivalent services that are produced by humans. This calculation makes clear that mankind cannot develop without nature's services.
This study is central for the theory of natural capital.
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- "If the flow of services from industrial systems is to be sustained or increased in the future for a growing population, the vital flow from services of living systems will have be to sustained or increased as well." Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins u. Paul Hawken: A Road Map for Natural Capitalism Archived 2006-03-07 at the Wayback Machine (Pdf), in: Harvard Business Review May-June 199, p.155