Defining Social Ecosystem Services Hotspots through Stakeholder-based ES mapping

Rik De Vreese, Corentin M. Fontaine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Ecosystem services (ES) mapping is traditionally based on biophysical assessments and modelling. We argue this approach is not fully reflecting the philosophy of ecosystem services, namely providing benefits supplied to humans: cultural ES such as aesthetic experiences or educational opportunities are not included in biophysical mapping and modelling exercises. With the aim of mapping perceived ES, we opted for a stakeholder-based ES mapping, in a wooded peri-urban landscape in central Belgium. This paper will demonstrate the potential use of stakeholder-based mapping for planning and management of ecosystems and their services.

During semi-structured interviews, respondents scored the - to them - local importance of 32 ecosystem services and sketched the location of the most important ES. The respondents also indicated conflicting and synergizing ES. After digitizing and intersecting polygons drafted by the stakeholders, we described the distribution of ES with indicators traditionally applied in landscape ecology (abundance, diversity, dominance, rarity, richness). A PCA correlated these indicators with individual ES, resulting in ES bundles of co-occurring services. We delineated social ES hotspots, and areas of conflicting ES. Finally we compared the location of ecological hotspots with the stakeholder-derived (social) ES hotspots.

The PCA resulted in two relevant axes. Most ES show high contributions to the first axis. Based on their loadings on the second axis, we consider three ES bundles along the first axis. Group A (positive loadings on the second axis) contains air purification, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, erosion control, protection against noise, pollination, wood production, creating a sense of place, and providing historical landscapes. Group B (factor loadings between -1 and 1 on the second axis) covers berry picking, education, and recreation. Group C (negative factor loadings) contains aesthetic experiences, opportunities for research, opportunities for therapeutic recovery, habitat provision, and local species. The second PCA-axis loads on water-related ES (flood protection and water purification). The ecosystem services food production, employment in agriculture, employment in nature and landscape management, hunting, providing regional products, and providing opportunities for social relations show no significant correlations with the first two axes. The abundance and richness indices highly contribute to the first PCA-axis, and can be considered as relevant indicators for planning and managing ecosystems and their services.

Conflicting ES include food production and employment in agriculture versus habitat provision, the negative impact of urbanization on providing ESS, and recreation versus habitat. The risk indicator gives insight into the location of conflict zones. Results of comparing the locations of social hotspots with ecological hotspots are not available at the moment, but will be available and discussed during the presentation.

Our approach contributes to improved and integrated ES mapping, by integrating social values and intangible ES such as aesthetic experiences and other cultural ES into ES mapping processes. The approach provides opportunities to include perceived ES distribution into planning and management of natural resources, and to include perceived ES distribution and social values into integrated ecosystem service assessments, eventually leading to better insights into the set of ES provided.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication17th International Conference of the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF 2014)
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2014
Event17th International Conference of the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) 2014 - Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: 3 Jun 20147 Jun 2014


Conference17th International Conference of the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) 2014


  • participatory mapping
  • hotspot mapping
  • social assessment
  • social mapping
  • integrated ecosystem service assessment


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