Relationships between the perception of cultural ecosystem services and land cover in Central-Eastern-Europe




Despite of the growing number of studies related to ecosystem services, there is still a lack of deeper understanding of cultural ecosystem services (CES). CES are defined as nonmaterial benefits obtained from ecosystem, which significantly influence the quality of life. The assessment of cultural services is still challenging due to the perceived intangible nature of them, and their dependence on social background. Consequently, the evaluation requires empirical work, which is mainly carried out by surveys. Among these methods, over the last years Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) was the most frequently employed tool. Based on the former research, one can argue, that in this field there is still a lack of Central-Eastern European PPGIS studies on a regional scale.

In our previous research, we dealt with the influencing effect of accessibility and the extent of local identity related to CES perception. However, our current study focuses on the relationships of CES and biophysical features (land cover and protected areas). We investigated the following research questions:

  1. Which kind of relationships exist between mapped CES and land cover?
  2. Which kind of relationships exist between CES perception and protected areas?
  3. How similar are the spatial patterns of the mapped CES?
  4. Are these associations consistent with other studies from different geographical contexts?
  5. What are the implications of the empirical findings for managing CES in the Central- Eastern-European context?

We chose 18 settlements of the micro-region of Vác located in the Budapest Metropolitan Region as the study area. Five cultural ecosystem services were defined: aesthetic, recreational and therapeutic, spiritual, cultural and historic, educational values. During the survey a total of 184 maps were made, after the data was digitized. The analyses were performed partly by GIS methods (using QGIS software) and partly by statistical analyzes (Chi-square test, Z test).

Our results showed that there are land use types with which most of the studied CES show significant positive correlation (mainly residential areas and artificial, non-agricultural green areas). Positive correlation can also be identified with surface waters, forests, and grasslands for aesthetic and recreational values. In contrast, we identified negative correlation between agricultural areas and all types of studied services. We also found, that national protected areas have positive correlation with the perceived CES, nevertheless, this relationship cannot be identified with the internationally protected areas.