Spatial disconnections between locations where ecosystem services are produced and where they are used are common. To date most ecosystem service assessments have relied on static indicators of provision and often do not incorporate relations with the corresponding beneficiaries or benefiting areas. Most studies implicitly assume spatial and temporal connections between ecosystem service provision and beneficiaries, while the actual connections, i.e., ecosystem service flows, are poorly understood. In this paper, we present a generic framework to analyze the spatial connections between the ecosystem service provisioning and benefiting areas. We introduce an indicator that shows the proportion of benefiting areas supported by spatial ecosystem service flows from provisioning areas. We illustrate the application of the framework and indicator by using global maps of provisioning and benefitting areas for pollination services. We also illustrate our framework and indicator using water provision and climate regulation services, as they portray important differences in spatiotemporal scale and process of service flow. We also describe the possible application of the framework for other services and other scales of assessment. We highlight how, depending on the ecosystem service being studied, the spatial service flows between provisioning and benefiting areas can limit service delivery, thereby reducing the local value of ecosystem service supply. © 2013 MCh The Authors.