These are the nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through
spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and
aesthetic experiences, including:
Source: Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2003) pp 58-59
- Recreation and ecotourism. People often choose where to spend their
leisure time based in part on the characteristics of the natural or cultivated
landscapes in a particular area.
- Cultural diversity. The diversity of ecosystems is one factor influencing
the diversity of cultures.
- Spiritual and religious values. Many religions attach spiritual and religious
values to ecosystems or their components.
- Knowledge systems (traditional and formal). Ecosystems influence the
types of knowledge systems developed by different cultures.
- Educational values. Ecosystems and their components and processes provide
the basis for both formal and informal education in many societies.
- Inspiration. Ecosystems provide a rich source of inspiration for art, folklore,
national symbols, architecture, and advertising.
- Aesthetic values. Many people find beauty or aesthetic value in various
aspects of ecosystems, as reflected in the support for parks, “scenic drives,”
and the selection of housing locations.
- Social relations. Ecosystems influence the types of social relations that
are established in particular cultures. Fishing societies, for example, differ
in many respects in their social relations from nomadic herding or
- Sense of place. Many people value the “sense of place” that is associated
with recognized features of their environment, including aspects of the
- Cultural heritage values. Many societies place high value on the maintenance
of either historically important landscapes (“cultural landscapes”)
or culturally significant species.