The role of multi-functionality in social preferences toward semi-arid rural landscapes: An ecosystem service approach

Marina García-Llorente*, Berta Martín-López, Irene Iniesta-Arandia, César A. López-Santiago, Pedro A. Aguilera, Carlos Montes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study analyzes the relationship between landscape multi-functionality and social preferences toward Mediterranean landscapes in terms of monetary and non-monetary techniques. Twenty landscape views were selected as representative of the landscape units characterizing Nacimiento and Adra semi-arid watersheds (southeastern Spain). Face-to-face questionnaires were used to assess social factors that influence willingness to pay for aesthetic landscape enjoyment (use value) and landscape conservation (non-use value). Meanwhile, an expert focus group analyzed the capacity of the selected semi-arid ecosystems for supplying services to society. The favorite landscape views mainly contained steeper reliefs, water flows, and traditional human activities. Our results suggest a strong positive effect between respondents' place attachment and the level of support for landscape conservation. Respondents were more willing to pay for the conservation of semi-arid rural landscapes when their sense of belonging was greater. We also found that multi-functional landscapes, which provide higher numbers of regulating and cultural services, were also preferred in terms of their visual quality (use value). Additionally, they had more social support for their conservation (non-use value). The conversion of multi-functional landscapes to mono-functional ones disturbs the stability of rural areas, their capacity to provide other ecosystem services, and the social support toward their preservation. To reverse this tendency, two major ideas should be emphasized. The first is the necessity of considering the ecological components and processes behind landscapes, and the second is the role of the local population on rural landscape conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Volume19-20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Keywords

  • Contingent valuation
  • Expert focus group
  • Landscape aesthetic
  • Mediterranean
  • Social-ecological system
  • Value

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