Cultural ecosystem services

These are the nonmaterial benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation and aesthetic experiences, including cultural diversity, spiritual and religuous values, knowledge systems, educational values, inspiration, aesthetic values, social relations, sense of place, cultural heritage values, recreation and ecotourism. For the Netherlands, the following cultural services have been quantified, mapped and analyzed:

Nature recreation

Ecosystems play an important role in outdoor recreation, by providing attractive environments for leisure activities. The ecosystem service nature recreation covers all nature-related recreational activities. In this study, hiking is used as an indicator for nature recreation, because is the most popular outdoor recreational activity in the Netherlands. Survey data on hiking frequency, lengths of hikes and ecosystems visited were combined with the topographical maps of all foot paths to construct maps of hiking intensity. The ecosystem provided here is the visual enjoyment of the landscape along the paths, and is expressed as the number of hikers seeing an hectare.

recreational hiking

Nature tourism

Nature tourism is similar to nature recreation, as it includes nature-related leisure activities such as visits to nature areas, for hiking, cycling or boating, and beach holidays. The difference between tourism and recreation is that recreation considers only single day activities, whereas nature tourism includes only multiple day activities away from home, with at least one overnight stay at an accommodation such as hotels, camp-sites, bungalows and group accommodations. Maps for this ecosystem service were constructed by combining maps of bed density in tourist resorts and marinas with province-scale tourism statistics and the presence of nature within a radius of 5 km (for land) or 10 km (for marina’s) around the accommodations.