Valuing Cultural Ecosystem Services

Posted: 27 Oct 2016

See all articles by Mark Hirons

Mark Hirons

University of Oxford - School of Geography and the Environment

Claudia Comberti

University of Oxford - Environmental Change Institute (ECI)

Robert Dunford

University of Oxford - School of Geography and the Environment

Date Written: October 2016

Abstract

The ecosystem services (ES) framework was developed to articulate and measure the benefits humans receive from ecosystems. Cultural ecosystem services (CES), usually defined as the intangible and nonmaterial benefits ecosystems provide, have been relatively neglected by researchers and policy-makers compared to provisioning, supporting, and regulating services. Although valuing CES poses several conceptual and methodological difficulties, it is of huge interest and importance because of the linkages between cultural values, valuation methods, and the individual and collective decision-making that influence ecosystems and human wellbeing. This review is not a how-to guide, but rather examines key conceptual issues and maps critical areas of debate. There is a range of potential approaches to assessing CES; however, choices regarding valuation methods and their role in decision-making are shaped by cultural and political dynamics. CES are at a crossroads. They can potentially act as a fruitful conceptual container for a broad range of interdisciplinary research into human-environment relations and transform how decisions regarding the environment are made, but they can also be used to legitimize and entrench modes of decision-making that marginalize and undermine the very values they are intended to protect.

Suggested Citation

Hirons, Mark and Comberti, Claudia and Dunford, Robert, Valuing Cultural Ecosystem Services (October 2016). Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 41, pp. 545-574, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2859473 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-110615-085831

Mark Hirons (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - School of Geography and the Environment ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford OX1 3TB, OX1 3QY
United Kingdom

Claudia Comberti

University of Oxford - Environmental Change Institute (ECI) ( email )

South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3QY
United Kingdom

Robert Dunford

University of Oxford - School of Geography and the Environment

Mansfield Road
Oxford OX1 3TB, OX1 3QY
United Kingdom

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