International Family of Classifications

Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) Version 4.3

Basic Bibliographic Information

To Be Determined
European Environment Agency
Available Formats:
Print, PDF, Excel
Year Adopted:
Year Published:
Available Languages (besides English):
Fully available only in English.

Purpose of the Classification

Statistical Domains:
3.1 Environment
The classification of final ecosystem services
Main Applications:
Natural capital accounting, ecosystem accounting, ecosystem assessments, ecosystem service valuation and mapping
Main Users:
Researchers, environmental analysts and statisticians


To provide a classification of final ecosystem services - these are services that are the ecosystem contributions to human well-being and the economy (in layman terms the 'output of ecosystems'). Final ecosystem services: contributions that ecosystems make to human well-being. These services are final in that they are the outputs of ecosystems (whether natural, semi-natural or highly modified) that provide direct or indirect benefits to people.
Concept Being Classified:
Statistical Units:
Ecosystems, habitat patches, ecosystem assets, any spatial region or area from local scales through to global that can serve as a service providing unit.
Main Principles:
To cover the range of (a) material and energetic contributions from ecosystems on which human well-being depends (Provisioning Services); (b) the regulation of the human environment by living systems (Regulating and Maintenance Services; and (c) the range of non-material characterists of ecosystems that contribute to human well-being (Cultural Services). Ecosystem services are taken to be the outputs from living systems (i.e. the biotic rather than the abiotic components of ecosystems). While the target of the classification is 'final ecosystem services' (see above), it is recognised that this can be context dependent - and so the classes represent potential final services.
Relationships to Other International Classifications:
Related To:
Major Differences (Scope, Structure, and Concepts):
Ecosystem services categories as used in Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity (TEEB) and Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES)
CICES is more detailed than the classification of the MA, and explicitly includes biomass-based energy outputs from ecosystems. CICES also separates ecosystem services from benefits. The MA regards services as benefits. CICES is more detailed than the classification of TEEB, and explicitly includes biomass-based energy outputs from ecosystems. In comparison to the classification of TEEB CICES does not include the 'supporting services' originally defined in the MA (and used in TEEB). In CICES the 'supporting services' are treated as part of the underlying structures, processes and processes of ecosystems.

Classification Structure

Definition of Structure:
Level Name:
Code Format:
Number of Items:
Level 1
3 items
Level 2
8 items
Level 3
20 items
Level 4
48 items
Level 5
flexible items
A numbering code format is being developed - it will be hierarchical. The sub-classes are open - so as to allow services that are specific to different localities to be included and named in ways that have local resonance.
Criteria for Definition of Levels:
The classification is nested, with inheritance of characteristics at successively more detailed levels. The classification also seeks to be comprehensive in detailed coverage down to the class level. Sub-classes allow users to add specific services that mean something in their analytical context. The levels down to the classes have also been designed to be non-overlapping. See also 3d, above.

Revision Information

Chronology of revisions/versions of the classification:
Year Adopted:
Title or Version Number:
Official Adopting Entity:
European Environment Agency & University of Nottingham
Coordinating Entity:
European Environment Agency & Fabis Consulting
Documenting Website:
Reason for Latest Revision:
The user experience developed since V4.3 was published to ensure that the naming is consistent and transparent.
Major Changes:
Revision is currently underway
No, but there will be.

Supporting Documents

Coding Index Available:
Correspondence with Other Classifications:
Correspondence Table:
Ecosystem services categories as used in Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity (TEEB) and Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES)
Training Materials and Other Documents:

Contact Information

Agency / Office:
European Environment Agency
Natural Capital Accounting
Contact Name:
Jan-Erik Petersen
Kongens Nytorv 6 1050 Copenhagen K, Denmark


The classification has been used widely and actively since January 2013, when the current version was released. Up until that point it was a working proptotype. The revision of V4.3 and the current round of consultation is based on consultation with the user community.The current round of revision will consider how the classification can be linked to classifications of benefits and beneficiaries, and spatial units that can be regarded as 'ecosystem assets'. While the classification was intended to support ecosystem accounting - as part of the System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) led by the UN-Statistical Division (see - ) under the auspices of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA),, it is now also widely used for more general mapping and assessment purposes (see for example the EU process on 'Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)' in Europe - It should be noted that CICES is mentioned as a classification for ecosystem services in the UN handbook on SEEA Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA) but that it has not been formally adopted as the recommended classification for that purpose by UNSD or UNCEEA. The current revision process of CICES will contribute to an ongoing expert process for developing a formal international classification of ecosystem services which is organised by UNSD under the auspices of the UNCEEA. There are also other classification systems of final ecosystem services that will be considered in that context, in particular the US-EPA system of 'Final Ecosystem Goods and Services Classification Systems' (FEGS-CS' see, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency 'National Ecosystem Services Classification System' (NESCS): Framework Design and Policy Application. EPA-800-R-15-002. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC; weblink: