Public benefits - Ecosystem Services

Dartmoor provides a range of public benefits which are being described nationally as 'ecosystem services’. These services include some of the essentials of life, such as clean air and water, food, fuel and raw materials, and more complex processes such as regulating climate through carbon stored in peat soils and woodlands. As well as these practical benefits, the National Park also provides opportunities for recreation, contemplation or spiritual refreshment and improving people's health and wellbeing.

'Ecosystem services' are categorised into four types of services:

  • Supporting services – services necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services and providing the basic infrastructure for life on Earth.
  • Provisioning services – the products obtained from ecosystems such as food, water, fibre, fuel, natural medicines and pharmaceuticals, and genetic resources.
  • Regulating services – the benefits people obtain from the regulation of ecosystem processes, such as air and water quality maintenance and climate regulation.
  • Cultural services – the non-material benefits that people obtain through things like recreation and learning, spiritual enrichment and cognitive development.

The table highlights some of the ecosystem services provided on Dartmoor.

This range of services benefits society as a whole, but they require careful stewardship if they are to continue to be provided and enhanced in the future. This includes developing a more integrated approach to managing ecosystems, with an emphasis on maintaining the health of all elements of an ecosystem to optimise delivery across the range of benefits provided.

The Management Plan takes an ecosystems approach to identifying:

The relationship between the National Park's special qualities and the delivery of benefits for people through ecosystem services is illustrated in the following diagram.

Special qualities and delivery of benefits diagram

The Management Plan is structured around the three themes of Sustain, Enjoy and Prosper. Whilst the ecosystems approach is embedded within the Plan, to avoid repetition the sections have not been structured around the ecosystem services.