Ecosystem services or nature's contributions? Reasons behind different interpretations in Latin America

Aliny P. F. Pires, Maíra C. G. Padgurschi, Paula D. de Castro, Fabio R. Scarano, Bernardo Strassburg, Carlos A. Joly, Robert T. Watson, Rudolf de Groot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


People depend on nature in multiple ways and there is increasing concern about how the current unsustainable use of natural resources will compromise human well-being. In this context, there is a debate about the usefulness of the terms ecosystem services (ES) and nature's contributions to people (NCP) in addressing this problem, but so far no research has been dedicated to investigating the reasons behind this. We, therefore, performed a data-based study to explore the potential explanations for the use and perceptions of the differences between the ES and NCP terms. Based on a questionnaire among 150 participants in the ESP Latin America and the Caribbean conference in 2018, we demonstrate that the choice for using one or both terms is related to the perception of the differences between them and to specific professional traits. We detected that researchers that use quantitative methods are predominantly inclined to use ES while researchers using qualitative methods use the NCP-term. Despite the predominant preference for one of the two terms, a considerable percentage of researchers used both. Our results suggest that rather than emphasizing perceived conflicts between ES and NCP terms, they can be used in a complementary way and have the potential to reach multiple audiences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101070
Number of pages5
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date9 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Ecosystem services concept
  • Indigenous and local knowledge
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Nature's contribution to people
  • People-nature relationships
  • Quantitative methods

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