UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Where are ‘cultural’ and ‘social’ in ecosystem services: A framework for constructive engagement. Chan, Kai M. A.; Guerry, Anne; Balvanera, Patricia; Klain, Sarah; Satterfield, Terre; Basurto, Xavier; Bostrom, Ann; Chuenpagdee, Ratana; Gould, Rachelle; Halpern, Benjamin; Hannahs, Neil; Levine, Jordan; Norton, Bryan; Ruckelshaus, Mary; Russell, Roly; Tam, Jordan; Woodside, Ulalia


Focusing on ecosystem services (ES) is seen as a means for improving decision-making. Research to-date has emphasized valuation of material contributions of ecosystems to human well-being, with less attention to important cultural ES and non-material values. This gap persists because there is no commonly accepted framework for eliciting tangible values, characterizing their changes and including them alongside other services in decision-making. Here we develop such a framework for ES research and practice, addressing three challenges: i) non-material values are ill-suited to characterization using monetary methods, ii) it is difficult to unequivocally link particular changes in social-ecological systems to particular changes in cultural benefits; and iii) cultural benefits are associated with many services, not just cultural ES. There is no magic bullet, but our framework may facilitate fuller and more socially acceptable integrations of ES information into planning and management. Copyright statement: “NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in BioScience. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in BioScience, 6, (8), (2012) http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/bio.2012.62.8.7¨

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