Social Valuation of Mediterranean Cultural Landscapes: Exploring Landscape Preferences and Ecosystem Services Perceptions through a Visual Approach | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
October 2020
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© 2020 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Mediterranean cultural landscapes have been recognized as multifunctional landscapes that are currently threatened by two opposing trends: rural abandonment and agricultural intensification. Uncovering people’s perceptions of different landscape configurations, and how inhabitants value the contributions of nature to human wellbeing, is essential to understanding current landscape trends. In this study, we analyze the social perception of the cultural landscapes of Sierra Morena (Andalusia, Spain) based on 389 face-to-face visual questionnaires in an attempt to understand individuals’ landscape preferences, the reasons behind those preferences and how those landscapes are perceived as suppliers of ecosystem services by different groups of stakeholders. Four groups of stakeholders were identified that differed in how they perceive and value the cultural landscape. An urban-related group was characterized by their preferences for pine plantations and “green” landscapes, guided mostly by aesthetic criteria. A livestock-related group showed a clear preference for wood–pasture landscapes (dehesas) due to their ability to supply multiple ecosystem services. An environmentally aware group showed preferences for dehesas and Mediterranean forests, mainly guided by ecological criteria. Finally, an olive-related group showed a clear preference for olive grove landscapes as key for the regional economy and their cultural identity. Overall, the local inhabitants of Sierra Morena perceived a higher supply of ecosystem services in moderately disturbed landscapes, such as dehesas and mosaic landscapes, than in highly disturbed ones, such as conventional olive groves and pine plantations, or in less used landscapes, such as the Mediterranean forest. Understanding the differences in valuation/demand for ecosystem services among groups of stakeholders, characterized by their landscape preferences, provides important information with which to identify potential trade-offs and conflicts, thereby providing insights into the improvement of landscape planning and decision making.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Bidegain, Íñigo
López-Santiago, César A.
González, José A.
Martínez-Sastre, Rodrigo
Ravera, Federica
Cerda, Claudia


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