1. By definition, ecosystem services (ES) are the “benefits that people obtain from ecosystems”, and this paradigm
has been increasingly used in recent decades in ecological planning, for policy development and environmental
2. In this short commentary, we highlight the main criticisms suggested by several scientists against the currently
used and abused ecosystem services (ES) approach.
3. We underline how this concept needs a more accurate scientific assessment and theoretical development, repeating
that one of the most critical concerns is that this paradigm assigns a “price”, but not a “value” to nature.
4. We also discuss different theoretical concerns, as for example the replacement of natural “resource” by
“service” promoted by the ES paradigm thereby changing the implications of such assessments. Conserving
resources is essential for survival of several organisms, while conservation of a “service” is mainly related to the
5. Finally, we warn against the mechanism of ‘crowding out’ behind the ES approach, which replaces intrinsic
motivations (nature) against extrinsic ones (benefits), highlighting that people do not need to attach different
values to ecosystems (monetary, cultural, aesthetic, etc.) to understand the value of nature.
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