The Socio-cultural Value of Upland Regions in the Vicinity of Cities in Comparison With Urban Green Spaces

Katja Schmidt, Ariane Walz, Isobel Jones, Marc J. Metzger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mountain and upland regions provide a wide range of ecosystem services to residents and visitors. While ecosystem research in mountain regions is on the rise, the linkages between socio-cultural benefits and ecological systems remain little explored. Mountainous regions close to urban areas provide numerous benefits to a large number of individuals, suggesting a high social value, in particular for cultural ecosystem services. We explore and compare visitors’ valuation of ecosystem services in the Pentland Hills, an upland range close to the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, and urban green spaces within Edinburgh. Based on 715 responses to user surveys in both study areas, we identified intense use and high social value for both areas. Several ecosystem services were perceived as equally important in both areas, including many cultural ecosystem services. Significant differences were revealed in the value of physically using nature, which Pentland Hills users rated more highly than those in the urban green spaces, and of mitigation of pollutants and carbon sequestration, for which the urban green spaces were valued more highly. Major differences were further identified for preferences in future land management, with nature-oriented management preferred by about 57% of the interviewees in the Pentland Hills, compared to 31% in the urban parks. The study highlights the substantial value of upland areas in close vicinity to a city for physically using and experiencing nature, with a strong acceptance of nature conservation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-474
JournalMountain Research and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

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