Potential supply and actual use of cultural ecosystem services in mountain protected areas and their surroundings

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Emilie Crouzat
  • Angel De Frutos
  • Volker Grescho
  • Steve Carver
  • Andrea Büermann
  • Claudia Carvalho-Santos
  • Roland Kraemer
  • Sarah Mayor
  • Franziska Pöpperl
  • Christian Rossi
  • Matthias Schröter
  • Ana Stritih
  • Ana Sofia Vaz
  • Jan Watzema
  • Aletta Bonn

The potential supply of ecosystem services is often assessed using land cover data. Assessment of actual use of ecosystem services by beneficiaries remains less covered and is often assumed to be congruent with potential supply. However, we believe that to contribute to the sustainable management of multifunctional landscapes, more insights are needed on the links between landscape characteristics and the various facets of ecosystem services. In this paper, we assess cultural ecosystem services (CES) such as recreation, inspiration or scenic beauty in three European mountain protected areas and their surroundings. We study the alignment between the potential supply and actual use of CES. CES potential supply was modelled using six biophysical indicators derived from earth observation and open geospatial data. For CES actual use, we employed participatory mapping with protected area visitors and local experts. We modelled CES actual use as a function of landscape biophysical indicators, weighted by (i) stated and (ii) revealed visitor preferences, and accessibility in each protected area using generalized additive mixed-effects models. Accessibility alone could explain around 50% of the variability of CES actual use, and with the additional inclusion of the ‘natural and cultural features’ variable, the actual use models reached an explanatory power of around 80% for all three case-studies. Importantly, biophysical information using land cover data alone cannot fully describe CES actual use, and there was little congruency between modelled potential supply and actual use. Additional socio-cultural features are required to explain the patterns of locations where protected area visitors enjoy CES. Our results can inform visitor management by addressing CES actual use and thereby provide evidence for landscape management and conservation planning and management, including offering a rewarding experience of nature for visitors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101395
JournalEcosystem Services
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2022

    Research areas

  • Actual use, Cultural ecosystem service, Expert knowledge elicitation, Participatory mapping, Potential supply, Protected area
  • Ecosystems Research