1. Introduction & Objectives
Studies show that cultural ecosystem services (e.g. nature-linked recreation, education, science, heritage etc.) are highly valued, and present some of the most compelling reasons for conserving ecosystems. In addition to health and wellbeing benefits, cultural ecosystem services (CES) provide information which raises public awareness of ecological issues, and provides evidence for decision making. Subsequently enhancing the generation of CES is fundamental to the success of programmes and policies which adopt an ecosystem services approach.
Nevertheless, CES remains understudied and is notably challenging to research. In part, this is due to the co-produced and contextually situated nature of this phenomenon. People interact with environments in complex and multifaceted ways, and as such this process cannot be represented as a linear flow of benefits from ecosystems to people. Understanding the different types of human interactions with different forms of ‘nature’ (including semi-natural, peri-urban and agricultural landscapes) and the perceptual and interpretative processes at work is crucial. This requires a flexible, innovative approach that is best supported through interdisciplinary collaboration.
The Ecosystem Services Partnership thematic working group for cultural ecosystem services will provide a forum for exploring the philosophical and methodological questions associated with CES research. It will improve the characterisation of CES to facilitate communication, and identify generalizable vs specific elements of CES generation to support the cross-comparability of studies. It will encourage the integration of psychological, sociological, ecological, and geographical approaches and seek to refine and bound this topic area. Ultimately this will lead towards the design of practical assessment and mapping tools which account for a fuller extent of CES, and so enable widespread behaviour change and a faster transition towards sustainable societies.
Objective: This working group will bring together researchers to generate a coherent approach to cultural ecosystem services research and develop our thinking on CES. The group will produce a framework for CES research which allows study results to be appropriately generalized and applicable across a wide range of sites. It will synthesise and distribute new developments in the field for the benefit of the membership. We will establish relationships with other working groups in order to develop effective quantitative and spatial CES indicators.
2. Lead Team & Members
- Kai Chan, University of British Columbia, Canada
- Helen King, Australian National University
- Anne Boehnke Henrichs, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
- Bas Verschuuren
- Sarah Klain
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Lead team, please contact the current lead team members.
If you are interested in becoming a member of this Working group, please click here.
3. Activities and Outputs
- Database of researchers/ practitioners working on or interested in CES
- Sharing of key CES publications and reports
- News in the field of CES; details of workshops etc.
- Development of conceptual and methodological frameworks for CES
- Workshop at the 2014 ESP conference
- Future discussion group/ forum