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Plural valuation in space: mapping values of grasslands and their ecosystem services (2022)

Schmitt T., Riebl R., Martín-López B., Hänsel M., Koellner T.

Ecosystems and People, 18 (1), 258-274



The agricultural management of grasslands not only is strongly linked to fodder production but also provides other valuable ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, nutrient regulation, and recreation. Capturing the values that society places on such ecosystem services is a step to provide management recommendations. To elicit the societal value of grasslands and their ecosystem services, it is important to consider multiple dimensions, namely, instrumental, intrinsic, and relational values. We conducted surveys with citizens in 2018 and 2020 in two study areas in Bavaria, Germany: one grassland-dominated and one with mixed agricultural land use. In the surveys, the respondents were invited to map up to seven points in their respective regions where they perceived grasslands to be ‘especially valuable’. Also, the respondents could provide reasons for this selection. These verbatims were classified into instrumental, intrinsic, and several sub-types of relational values using Qualitative Content Analysis. Next, we conducted a hotspot analysis that revealed spatial hotspots and coldspots for each value type . Besides some overlaps, we found that hotspots of instrumental, intrinsic, and relational values varied in space. A Constrained Correspondence Analysis underlined the trade-offs between instrumentally valued grasslands that are perceived as suitable to supply provisioning services and intrinsically valued grasslands that are closely related to relational values such as care. The results show that grasslands and their ecosystem services are valued for a variety of reasons on different locations, and point out the need for further investigations of the spatial distribution of values associated with ecosystem services.