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Regulating services

Biodiversity 24 Apr 23

Regulating Services are the services that ecosystems provide by acting as regulators e.g. regulating the quality of air and soil, or by providing flood and disease control.

Local climate & air quality: Trees provide shade, whilst forests influence rainfall and water availability both locally and regionally. Trees and plants also play an important role in regulating air quality by removing pollutants from the atmosphere.

Carbon sequestration & storage: Ecosystems regulate the global climate by storing and sequestering greenhouse gases. As trees and plants grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and effectively lock it away in their tissues. In this way forest ecosystems are carbon stores. Biodiversity also plays an important role by improving the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Moderation of extreme events: Extreme weather events or natural hazards include floods, storms, tsunamis, avalanches and landslides. Ecosystems and living organisms create buffers against natural disasters, thereby preventing possible damage, e.g. coral reefs and mangroves help protect coastlines from storm damage.

Waste-water treatment: Ecosystems such as wetlands filter both human and animal waste and act as a natural buffer to the surrounding environment. 

Erosion prevention & maintenance of soil fertility: Soil erosion is a key factor in the process of land degradation and desertification. Vegetation cover provides a vital regulating service by preventing soil erosion. Soil fertility is essential for plant growth and agriculture and well-functioning ecosystems supply the soil with nutrients required to support plant growth.

Pollination: Insects and wind pollinate plants and trees which is essential for the development of fruits, vegetables and seeds. Animal pollination is an ecosystem service mainly provided by insects but also by some birds and bats. 

Biological control: Ecosystems are important for regulating pests and vector borne diseases that attack plants, animals and people. Ecosystems regulate pests and diseases through the activities of predators and parasites. Birds, bats, flies, wasps, frogs and fungi all act as natural controls.

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