Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? We Have Answers.

What are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem Services are the benefits humans receive from nature that support our health and wellbeing. They include basic needs such as clean water, food and raw materials for building and less tangible benefits like recreational opportunities.

What is an ecosystem services approach? Are there other justifications that have used this same approach?

An ecosystem services approach involves recognition that ES are integrated in nature and consideration is given to the nature and magnitude of the service, how it changes if the ecosystem changes, who uses the service (and for what purpose), what alternatives there are, and what trade-offs there might be between different kinds of ES.
Other jurisdictions include:

What is simulation modeling?

Simulation modelling is a way of combining information gathered from different sources, such as maps, field studies and expert information to understand and predict complex ecological systems.

Why do we use models to map and measure ecosystem services?

Ecological models are simplifications of real-world systems that can provide valuable information on factors that influence ecosystem services and highlight important questions that can be addressed by future research.

If I have a technical question about the research and/or data who should I contact?

Please contact ABMI research coordinator, Tom Habib (

How has ABMI determined the value of ecosystem services?

Initially, the assessment approach uses existing sources of information such as maps, inventories and monitoring programs to determine the supply of a service across a region of interest. Value is then calculated based on how humans use or benefit from the service in a given region of interest, provincially or globally.

Why should ecosystem services be assessed?

Ecosystem services are often taken for granted and learning how to measure and value them provides insights on how to better manage our resources. Assessments are completed to identify the supply of ES and to determine the condition and extent of the ES in a given region. The ESA can enable the establishment of metrics and currencies to facilitate market-based approaches.

What is an ecosystem services approach?

An ecosystem approach involves making resource management decisions based on an understanding of the long-term effects of choosing one ecosystem over another, and the trade-offs necessary with informed, integrated resource management.

Where will the assessments be used?

Ecosystem services assessments will support better environmental management through regional planning, sustainability reporting and market-based approaches such as conservation offsets.

Why is the ESA project only modelling these services? What about others?

We wanted to start this project by looking at a management number of serves, so we chose a handful of services that are particularly important to Albertans and our economy. We are considering modelling other services in the future.

I am unfamiliar with some of the terms in some of the documents and technical reports, do you know where I can find further information?

ABMI has created a glossary of terms related to ecosystem services and their project. VISIT Biodiversity Matters