Combining sense of place theory with the ecosystem services concept: empirical insights and reflections from a participatory mapping study

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Context: River landscapes represent hotspots for biodiversity and ecosystem services used and embraced by human agents. Changes in river landscapes are subjectively perceived by people and can be assessed through the lenses of cultural ecosystem services (CES) and sense of place (SOP). Objectives: This study aims to assess people–place relationships in a river landscape by integrating SOP theory and the CES concept and critically reflecting on their interplay. Research objectives relate to meanings and attachments attributed by citizens to places and the influence of the physical environment and socioeconomic settings. Methods: We employed a spatially meaningful place indicator in a public participation GIS survey, combining meanings elucidated through a free listing exercise and multiple-choice questions. Statistical analyses were employed to investigate relationships between meanings, place attachment, and environmental and social variables. Results: The results showed that (1) place meaning assessments can complement place attachment data by enhancing the understanding of relationships to biophysical and socioeconomic variables, and (2) combinations of both assessment approaches for place meanings showed that CESs were reflected in many free listed meaning types, dominantly related to forms or practices, but neglect relational values, such as “Heimat” (i.e., in German expression of the long-standing connection to an area) or memories. Conclusions: This paper explicates synergies between SOP theory and CES concept. CES research offers insights from spatial assessments, while SOP research provides theoretical depth regarding relational values linked to CES. This paper critically reflects the ostensible consent of understanding SOP as a CES and proposes considering SOP as an overarching theory for CES assessment.
ZeitschriftLandscape Ecology
Seiten (von - bis)633-655
Anzahl der Seiten23
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.02.2022
Extern publiziertJa

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), through a grant for the PlanSmart research group (Funding Code: 01UU1601A), by the Graduate Academy of the University of Hannover for the data assessment (Project Number 60470376), and by the Academy of Finland (Grant Number 321555). Special thanks are offered to the participants of the survey. We thank the anonymous reviewers for the constructive feedback and Thea Kelly for assistance in performing a language check.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).