An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) Glossary of Terms

Term Definition
approach underlying philosophy leading to guiding principles from which to address ecosystem services in a repeatable manner.
beneficiaries the interests of an individual (i.e., person, group, and/or firm) that drive active or passive consumption and/or appreciation of ecosystem services resulting in an impact (positive or negative) on their welfare.
beneficiary approach the classification of ecosystem services by Beneficiary [Sub-]Categories.
benefits an impact, positive or negative, on human welfare.
classification system an organized structure for identifying and organizing ecosystem services into a coherent scheme.
community engagement involvement of individuals, groups, and firms that have an interest (active or passive) in the ecosystem/environment.
ecosystem attributes a biological, physical, or chemical characteristic or feature inherent to an ecosystem/environment.
ecosystem services a general term used to refer to "the benefits people obtain from ecosystems" (MEA 2005). A common variation of this general term is "ecosystem goods and services" (EGS). Ecosystem services, used in this general way, is all-inclusive and may include ecological processes and functions (sometimes referred to as intermediate services), goods, services, among anything from or within the environment.
Final Ecosystem Goods and Services (FEGS) "components of nature, directly enjoyed, consumed, or used to yield human well-being" (Boyd and Banzhaf, 2007). The final ecosystem service is a biophysical quality or feature and needs minimal translation for relevance to human well-being. Furthermore, a final ecosystem service is the last step in an ecological production function before the user interacts with the ecosystem, either by enjoying, consuming, or using the good or service, or using it as an input in the human economy.
FEGS Matrices a collection of 15 tables that represents the FEGS-CS, in which, for a specific Environmental Sub-Class, beneficiaries and sets of FEGS are identified and described.
framework a structure that includes the relationships among a set of assumptions, concepts, and practices that establish an approach for accomplishing a stated objective or objectives.
implementation plan explicit methods and approaches by which an ecosystem service framework can be applied.
intermediate ecosystem goods and services ecological processes, functions, structures, characteristics, and interactions that are essential to the existence of Final Ecosystem Goods and Services but are not directly enjoyed, used, or consumed by beneficiaries.


a physical entity (e.g., water, air, land) from which beneficiaries receive a benefit. For example, a commercial transporter interacts with the water (as a medium, the FEGS) while ferrying people across a river.
metrics and indicators a direct or indirect measurement of a FEGS that can be consistently and reliably related to a FEGS. There can be multiple metrics and indicators for a single FEGS, possibly necessitating the aggregation and weighting of metrics and indicators into an index.
operational used in a repeatable, consistent, and meaningful way.
production function models of the relationship between inputs and factors of production to production outputs. In the case of ecosystem services, there can be both ecological production functions, relating to natural structure and function (Daily and Matson 2008), and economic production functions, relating to human capital and economic products.
principles a set of fundamental rules.
service The wants and needs of people are met through items (i.e., goods) and delivery of assistance (i.e., services). Those services are actions or processes performed by people or nature that benefit people. Economic, environmental, and social services reflect the three pillars of sustainability.
servicescape the area or areas (as they can be non-contiguous) that contain beneficiaries that directly enjoy, consume, or use the FEGS provided by a defined region.
subsister a beneficiary that relies on the environment’s abundance [for water, food, timber, fiber, and fur, and/or building materials) as a major supplement to their existence.
total economic value the value of the output from an economic production function (i.e., product) that includes the ecological inputs (i.e., the ecological production function) and the inputs of labor and capital goods. Value is unlikely to be identical with the combined market prices to the separate inputs.
transdisciplinary involving frequent communication and shared effort among two or more traditional academic disciplines that have a common, discipline-transcending theory from which language, concepts, and methods are developed to solve problems beyond the confines of a single discipline (van den Besselaar and Heimeriks 2001).
viewscape a scene in its entirety within a range of sight, which may include components such as ridgelines, peaks, open meadows, or a "patchwork" of agricultural fields.