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A comparative approach to assess the contribution of landscape features to aesthetic and recreational values in agricultural landscapes

Ecosystem Services


The importance of cultural ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes is increasingly recognized as agricultural scale enlargement and abandonment affect aesthetic and recreational values of agricultural landscapes. Landscape preference studies addressing these type of values often yield context-specific outcomes, limiting the applicability of their outcomes in landscape policy. Our approach measures the relative importance of landscape features across agricultural landscapes. This approach was applied in the agricultural landscapes of Winterswijk, The Netherlands (n=191) and the Markische Schweiz, Germany (n=113) among visitors in the agricultural landscape. We set up a parallel designed choice experiment, using regionally specific, photorealistic visualizations of four comparable landscape attributes. In the Dutch landscape visitors highly value hedgerows and tree lines, whereas groups of trees and crop diversity are highly valued in the German landscape. Furthermore, we find that differences in relative preference for landscape attributes are, to some extent, explained by socio-cultural background variables such as education level and affinity with agriculture of the visitors. This approach contributes to a better understanding of the cross-regional variation of aesthetic and recreational values and how these values relate to characteristics of the agricultural landscape, which could support the integration of cultural services in landscape policy. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): van Zanten, BT; Zasada, I; Koetse, MJ; Ungaro, F; Hafner, K; Verburg, PH

Journal: Ecosystem Services

Year: 2016