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An empirical review of cultural ecosystem services indicators

  • Over millennia human well-being has benefited from ecosystems, not only through tangible goods, but also through intangible assets known as cultural ecosystem services. Despite growing research over the last decade, cultural services assessment still remains arbitrary and is largely limited to marketable services such as tourism. Evident difficulties in standardizing definitions and measurements have challenged cultural services accounting in decision making processes. However, the imminent formation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services offers an opportunity to counterbalance this misrepresentation by establishing a scientific basis for consistently assessing cultural services. In that regard, the current review intends to facilitate discussion investigating the current state of cultural services accounting by offering an appraisal of existing evidence regarding cultural services indicator quality. The current review builds on scientifically recognized frameworks to develop a holistic understanding of how cultural services indicators are conceived within ecosystem services research. Among the measures found, benefit indicators were most frequently used for assessing inspirational, educational and recreational services. A broad variety of methods for accounting cultural services was found, mainly due to the varied aims of the studies. Most of the cultural services indicators were deficient concerning their clarity of definitions, purposes and understanding of the processes to be measured and referring only marginally to tradeoffs and bundles with other services. Only 17% performed multitemporal assessments and 23% used spatially explicit information. It seems that cultural services indicators quality could be greatly enhanced by investing more effort towards involving relevant stakeholders in conceptualization and communication phases, using participatory mapping tools to enhance visibility.

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Author:Mónica Hernández-Morcillo, Tobias Plieninger, Claudia Bieling
Document Type:Preprint
Date of Publication (online):2013/08/29
Release Date:2013/08/29
Tag:Kulturelle Ökosystemleistungen
Accounting; Cultural ecosystem services; Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
GND Keyword:Ökosystem
Institutes:BBAW / Drittmittelprojekt Ökosystemleistungen
Dewey Decimal Classification:7 Künste und Unterhaltung / 71 Landschaftsgestaltung, Raumplanung / 710 Städtebau, Raumplanung, Landschaftsgestaltung