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Ornamental Resources

Animal products such as skins, shells and flowers that can be used as ornaments (e.g. ornamental plants, souvenirs, handicraft, fashion and cultural/religious ceremonies).


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Service Category

Provisioning Services


What are ornamental resources and how are they derived?

Shells are often fashioned into jewellery or other ornaments.

Drift wood is collected for fish tanks.

There are numerous products derived from nature that can be used as ornamental resources. These can include, but are not limited to, plants for transplant in private gardens; branches/wood for didgereedoos; shells, rocks, eggs, pearls, corals and sands make attractive jewellery, photo frames or just for collections; dried flower arrangements and pressess; drift wood is used in fish tanks; and skins and leathers are an excellent medium for clothing and accessories. Over the years people have found many creative, artistic, whacky and innovative uses of nature such as carved emu eggs, spiders on vehicle gear sticks, stuffed cane toads, shark tooth jewellery and shells in toilet seats.    

The action of collecting or buying ornamental resources represents a connection with the object, a practicality of its use or an appreciation of its aesthetic contribution. Some ornamental resources are collected as souvenirs, revered objects from fond places, people or experiences and hold sentimental values. Other ornamental resources are collected purely for their aesthetic contribution to a place or area (e.g. a rock feature in a garden).

A mix of sub-tropical and temperate climates regulates a large diversity of ecosystems and species in SEQ. This large diversity of ecosystems and species produces a large diversity of possible ornamental resources. Ornamental resources can be found in all ecosystems and although some ornamental resources (in particular shells and leather products) have found their way into everday markets, in reality, what is an ornamental resource is limited only by what is visible to the naked eye and one's imagination and values.

Table 1 below presents the magnitude different ecosystem functions contribute to the provision of ornamental resources (relative to other ecosystem functions). The ecosystem function identified as most important to the provision of ornamental resources is raw materials (biomass - living biological material e.g. plants, soils and animals). You would therefore expect the greater the diversity of species the greater the opportunity for the provision of ornamental resources.

Functions such as pollination, biological control, food, water supply and landscape opportunity are recognised as important functions also for providing ornamental resources. These functions are important to the reproduction, maintainance, growth and decay rates, and resilience of species and ecosystems.


Table 1:The relative magnitude (to other ecosystem functions) each ecosystem function contributes to Ornamental Resources.

Ecosystem Function Category Ecosystem Function 0
Regulating Functions
Gas Regulation

Climate Regulation

Disturbance Regulation

Water Regulation

Soil Retention

Nutrient Regulation

Waste Treatment and Assimilation


Biological Control

Barrier Effect of Vegetation

Supporting Functions
Supporting Habitats

Soil Formation

Provisioning Functions

Raw Materials

Water Supply

Genetic Resources

Provision of Shade and Shelter

Pharmacological Resources

Cultural Functions
Landscape Opportunity



Native plants are grown or harvested for flower arrangements.

Many materials for ornamental resources occur naturally in ecosystems and can be collected without any human inputs besides access to the area (e.g. the collection of shells or drift wood from beaches). In some instances however, the provision of materials for ornamental resources can be facilitated by farming the resource (e.g. emus for egg sculptures or flowers for the florist industry). Often the species (resource) is native and farmed in its natural environment (e.g. pearl farming in open water, crocodiles for leather or the extraction of native plants from natural ecosystems for residential and commercial gardens). Other times, the species is not native to the area (e.g. cows or deer for leather  and other exotic garden plants). If the resource is being farmed, additives such as water, food, fertilisers and pesticides may be required to increase this service. Regardless of the resource however, machinery, equipment and road access may be required to capture, extract or collect the materials.


Are there any barriers to people receiving this ecosystem service and its benefits?

Personal preferences and cultural or religious values will influence which ornamental resources are collected or purchased by individuals. Consumer choices and trends will influence which ornamental resources are most successful in markets.

The two primary barriers to people receiving this service is access to resources and legislation limiting the recreational and commercial taking/harvesting of natural resources from the environment. Scarcity of ornamental resources is a real possibility if resources are not managed sustainably. For those wanting access to ornamental resources, access to the resource maybe difficult or expensive. Socio-economic issues may prohibit people from purchasing or accessing ornamental resources.

This ecosystem service provides many benefits that contribute both directly and indirectly to the well-being of the SEQ community. The Constituents of Well-being this ecosystem service contributes to are presented in Table 2 below. Further information on these constituents and how ecosystem services contribute to them can be obtained by clicking on the links in the table.


Table 2:The relative magnitude (to other ecosystem services) Ornamental Resources contributes to each constituent of well-being.

Well-being Category Constituent of Well-being 0
Physical Health            
Mental Health            
Secure and Continuous Supply of Services            
Security of Person            
Security of Health            
Secure Access to Services            
Security of Property            
Good Social Relations
Family Cohesion            
Community and Social Cohesion            
Freedom of Choice and Action
Social and Economic Freedom            
Self Actualisation            



It is difficult to know if we are degarding, maintaining or improving ornamental resources. This is mostly because many ornamental resources are not well accounted for or established in markets. For example, although the sale of a 'necklace' might be recorded for accounting purposes, rarely does the materials from which it is made get accounted for particularly if privately collected. Although, one indicator could be the economic value of wholesale natural products and the number of local suppliers. As well, the monitoring of local nursery sales particularly of locally endemic species.


How is this ecosystem service currently managed in SEQ?

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection should be the first point of contact for those interested in collecting native biological material from State Land or Queensland Waters. The Biodiscovery Act 2004 (Qld) and Nature Conservation Act 1994 regulates the collection and use of native biological resources sourced from State Land or Queensland Waters.

Legislation aimed at protecting areas or objects that are significant to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people in accordance with their history, tradition or custom include the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003.