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The Importance of Cultural Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity for Landscape Visitors in the Biosphere Reserve Swabian Alb (Germany)

Sustainability

Abstract

Agricultural landscapes play an important role in providing different ecosystem services. However, the current trend of land use intensification in Central Europe involves the risk of trade-offs between them. Since cultural ecosystem services (CES) are less tangible, they are often underrepresented in landscape management decisions. To highlight this subject we evaluated CES in agro-ecosystems in the biosphere reserve Swabian Alb (Southwestern Germany). We conducted a survey among visitors to investigate their usage of the landscape, their perception as well as valuation of CES, and interrelations with biodiversity. The results show the presence of various types of usage related to cultural services, the most prominent being recreation and landscape aesthetics. People declared a high affinity to nature and biodiversity awareness. A participatory mapping task revealed their appreciation of biodiverse and ecologically relevant places such as protected species-rich grasslands, traditional orchards and hedgerows. Several socio-demographic differences emerged, e.g., between age classes and local/non-local visitors. We conclude that our exemplary methodical approach was successful in capturing the CES and their link to biodiversity in the investigated biosphere reserve, while identifying priority fields of action concerning the integration of CES into management and planning of cultural landscapes, ultimately serving as guides for local decision-makers.

Author(s): Muller, SM; Peisker, J; Bieling, C; Linnemann, K; Reidl, K; Schmieder, K

Journal: Sustainability

Year: 2019

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