Ecosystem Services are the guardians of life on Earth: they sustain it and directly influence the constituents of human wellbeing: security, health, good social relations, freedom of choice, and action.
To maintain these goods and services, ecosystems need to remain healthy over time. However, in recent years, anthropogenic pressure on ecosystems has had enormous impacts, influencing their evolution, size and capacity to deliver services and externalities. In fact, ecosystems and their functionality are subject to a series of pressures stemming from factors related to policies, technological development, also being dependent on consumers’ choices.
Finally, despite the obvious contribution that ecosystems provide to humanity, their real value is often ‘forgotten’ in economic forecasts. This is largely due to the externality character of many services and the consequent lack of a reference market, which makes it difficult to estimate and attribute an economic value to them. To overcome this problem, a list of methods for estimating the values of environmental goods has been consolidated over the years.
In addition to the traditional type of markets (voluntary or established by law) relating, for example, to greenhouse gases, water and biodiversity, new instruments for valuing Ecosystem Services have emerged. In particular, these include payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes, which aim at restoring and safeguarding ecological systems and the services they provide.