Identifying and mapping the tourists' perception of cultural ecosystem services: A case study from an Alpine region
Lupo Stanghellini PS
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SubjectCultural ecosystem service; Ecosystem service mapping; Ecosystem service potential; Land use change; Traditional landscape; Landscape perception
Landscapes provide an array of services to society, from the provision of food and material, to the provision of cultural ecosystem services such as recreation, aesthetics or spirituality. Studies on cultural ecosystem services, however, remain rare and little is known about the spatial localisation of these services. In this study, we adopt and test a framework to identify and map the provision of cultural ecosystem services as perceived by tourists in an Alpine region, i.e. the region of South Tyrol in Italy. A photo-based questionnaire survey is combined with cartographical representations of landscape types to elicit hot and coldspot areas of cultural ecosystem service provision. We statistically test for influences of the land use type and the respondents' socio-demographic background on the tourists' perception of these services. The results show that different spatial patterns emerge for each of the investigated cultural ecosystem services depending on the distribution and extent of the landscape types to which they are related. In particular traditionally managed landscapes, small in extent and mainly scattered over large areas between 1000 and 2200 m a.s.l., are hotspot areas of aesthetic beauty, leisure activities and spirituality. In contrast, intensively managed landscapes, mainly located in the lowland plains of the study site, are considered to be more important for the provision of cultural heritage values. While the results suggest that land use type exerts the strongest influence upon tourists' perception, factors such as the respondents' perceived importance of the services, their gender, cultural background, environmental engagement and experience with the landscape play a significant but subordinate role. We conclude that the spatially explicit information about the provision of cultural ecosystem services can serve as a helpful basis for the design and further implementation of land use policies that acknowledge the high touristic value of traditionally used landscapes in mountain regions.
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