Some aspects of past development are outlined in regard to the identification and classification of nature’s benefits nowadays conceptualized as ecosystem services. The knowledge about the multitude and diversity of the useful benefits has grown tremendously and yet a large part of biodiversity is still unknown. The conclusion is that the variety and complexity of ecosystem goods and services can only be properly categorized and managed by using hierarchical classifications. The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) represents the most concentrated effort to develop hierarchic, systematic and multipurpose classification for ecosystem services. CICES has been applied for the classification of the services of major inland ecosystems of Finland: forests, agricultural fields, peatland and freshwaters. The major observations has been that the flexibility, which the hierarchic system provides for moving towards more detailed classification levels is really a needed advantage and was used in the classifications done. Sample examples from the expanded classification are given besides other observations. The results of the classification efforts, which are reported elsewhere, are first applications of CICES in the boreal ecosystems.


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