Skip to main content

Ecosystem services in mountain regions: experts’ perceptions and research intensity

Abstract

Facing the challenges of global and regional changes, society urgently needs applicable and broadly accepted tools to effectively manage and protect ecosystem services (ES). This requires knowing which ES are perceived as important. We asked decision-makers from different thematic backgrounds to rank 25 ES on the basis of their importance for society. To test whether perceptions are varying across regions, we surveyed three Alpine regions in Austria and Italy. The ranking of importance showed a high variability amongst experts but was not influenced by region or thematic background. ES that satisfy physiological needs (‘fresh water’, ‘food’, ‘air quality regulation’) were indicated as most important. ES that relate to safety and security needs were ranked in the middle field, whereas cultural ES were perceived as less important. We used principal component analysis (PCA) to identify ES bundles based on perception of importance. In order to investigate whether research intensity follows the perceived importance, we related the interviews with a comprehensive literature review. ‘Global climate regulation’, ‘food’, ‘biodiversity’, ‘fresh water’ and ‘water quality’ were studied most often. Although ‘habitat’, ‘energy’, ‘primary production’, ‘tourism’, ‘water cycle’, and ‘local climate regulation’ were ranked as important by decision-makers, they did not receive corresponding research attention. We conclude that more interaction between research and stakeholders is needed to promote a broader application and understanding of the ES concept in practice. The use of ES bundles could help to manage its inherent complexity and facilitate its application.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. Agbenyega O, Burgess PJ, Cook M, Morris J (2009) Application of an ecosystem function framework to perceptions of community woodlands. Land Use Pol 26(3):551–557. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2008.08.011

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alderfer CP (1972) Existence, relatedness, and growth: human needs in organizational settings. Free Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  3. Allardt E (1993) Having, loving, being. An alternative to the swedish model of welfare research. In: Nussbaum MC, Sen A (eds) The quality of life. Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp 88–94

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  4. Alwin DF, Krosnick JA (1985) The measurement of values in surveys. A comparison of ratings and rakings. Public Opin Quart 49(4):535–552

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Anton C, Young J, Harrison PA, Musche M, Bela G, Feld CK, Harrington R, Haslett JR, Pataki G, Rounsevell MDA, Skourtos M, Sousa JP, Sykes MT, Tinch R, Vandewalle M, Watt A, Settele J (2010) Research needs for incorporating the ecosystem service approach into EU biodiversity conservation policy. Biodivers Conserv 19(10):2979–2994. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9853-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Assessment Millennium Ecosystem (ed) (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being. Current states and trends. Island Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  7. Autonome Provinz Bozen-Südtirol Landesinstitut für Statistik (ASTAT) (2012) Südtiroler Energiebilanz 2009, Bozen

  8. Autonome Provinz Bozen-Südtirol Landesinstitut für Statistik (ASTAT) (2013) astatinfo. Tourismus in einigen Alpengebieten 2011, Bozen

  9. Berbés-Blázquez M (2012) A participatory assessment of ecosystem services and human wellbeing in rural Costa Rica using photo-voice. Environ Manage 49(4):862–875. doi:10.1007/s00267-012-9822-9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Boyd JW, Banzhaf S (2007) What are ecosystem services? The need for standardized environmental accounting units. Ecol Econ 63(2–3):616–626. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2007.01.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bryan BA, Grandgirard A, Ward JR (2010) Quantifying and exploring strategic regional priorities for managing natural capital and ecosystem services given multiple stakeholder perspectives. Ecosystems 13(4):539–555. doi:10.1007/s10021-010-9339-0

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Castro A, Martín-López B, García-Llorente M, Aguilera P, López E, Cabello J (2011) Social preferences regarding the delivery of ecosystem services in a semiarid Mediterranean region. J Arid Environ 75(11):1201–1208. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.05.013

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cowling RM, Egoh B, Knight A, O’Farrell PJ, Reyers B, Rouget M, Roux DJ, Welz A, Wilhelm-Rechman A (2008) An operational model for mainstreaming ecosystem services for implementation. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105(28):9483–9488

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Crossman ND, Burkhard B, Nedkov S, Willemen L, Petz K, Palomo I, Drakou EG, Martín-López B, McPhearson T, Boyanova K, Alkemade R, Egoh B, Dunbar MB, Maes J (2013) A blueprint for mapping and modelling ecosystem services. Ecosyst Serv 4:4–14. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2013.02.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Daniel TC, Muhar A, Arnberger A, Aznar O, Boyd JW, Chan KMA, Costanza R, Elmqvist T, Flint CG, Gobster PH, Grêt-Regamey A, Lave R, Muhar S, Penker M, Ribe RG, Schauppenlehner T, Sikor T, Soloviy I, Spierenburg M, Taczanowska K, Tam J, von der Dunk A (2012) Contributions of cultural services to the ecosystem services agenda. Proc Natl Acad Sci 109(23):8812–8819. doi:10.1073/pnas.1114773109

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Diamont Database (2008). http://www.diamont-database.eu. Accessed 23 Oct 2013

  17. de Sherbinin A, Curran S (2004) Completing the picture. The challenges of bringing “consumption” into the population-environment equation. Popul Environ 26(2):107–131

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dominati E, Patterson M, Mackay A (2010) A framework for classifying and quantifying the natural capital and ecosystem services of soils. Ecol Econ 69(9):1858–1868. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.05.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Elkin C, Gutiérrez AG, Leuzinger S, Manusch C, Temperli C, Rasche L, Bugmann H (2013) A 2 & #xB0;C warmer world is not safe for ecosystem services in the European Alps. Glob Chang Biol 19(6):1827–1840. doi:10.1111/gcb.12156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. European Environmental Agency (2010) Corine land cover. http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/clc-2006-vector-data-version. Accessed 11 May 2012

  21. Fliri F (1975) Das Klima der Alpen im Raume von Tirol. Monographien zur Landeskunde Tirols 1, vol 1. Wagner, München

  22. Fontana V, Radtke A, Bossi Fedrigotti V, Tappeiner U, Tasser E, Zerbe S, Buchholz T (2013) Comparing land-use alternatives. Using the ecosystem services concept to define a multi-criteria decision analysis. Ecol Econ 93:128–136. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.05.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Forsius M, Anttila S, Arvola L, Bergstrom I, Hakola H, Heikkinen HI, Helenius J, Hyvarinen M, Jylha K, Karjalainen J, Keskinen T, Laine K, Nikinmaa E, Peltonen-Sainio P, Rankinen K, Reinikainen M, Setala H, Vuorenmaa J (2013) Impacts and adaptation options of climate change on ecosystem services in Finland: a model based study. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 5(1):26–40. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.01.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Frank S, Fürst C, Koschke L, Witt A, Makeschin F (2013) Assessment of landscape aesthetics. Validation of a landscape metrics-based assessment by visual estimation of the scenic beauty. Ecol Ind 32:222–231. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.03.026

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Grêt-Regamey A, Walz A, Bebi P (2008) Valuing ecosystem services for sustainable landscape planning in alpine regions. Mt Res Dev 28(2):156–165. doi:10.1659/mrd.0951

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Grêt-Regamey A, Brunner SH, Kienast F (2012) Mountain ecosystem services. Who Cares? Mt Res Dev 32(S1):S23–S34. doi:10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-10-00115.S1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Grunewald K, Bastian O (eds) (2012) Ökosystemdienstleistungen. Konzepte, Methoden und Fallbeispiele, 1, 2013. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg, Neckar

  28. Haines-Young R, Potschin M (2011) Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES). Update 2011. EEA Framework contract no EEA/BSS/07/007, November 2011

  29. Haines-Young R, Potschin M (2013) Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES 4). Consultation on CICES Version 4, August–December 2012. EEA Framework Contract No EEA/IEA/09/003

  30. Hair JF, Black WC, Babin BJ, Anderson RE (2006) Multivariate data analysis, 6th edn. Prentice Hall, New Jersey

    Google Scholar 

  31. Harrison PA, Vandewalle M, Sykes MT, Berry PM, Bugter R, Bello F, Feld CK, Grandin U, Harrington R, Haslett JR, Jongman RHG, Luck GW, Silva PM, Moora M, Settele J, Sousa JP, Zobel M (2010) Identifying and prioritising services in European terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. Biodivers Conserv 19(10):2791–2821. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9789-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hartter J (2010) Resource use and ecosystem services in a forest park landscape. Soc Nat Resour 23(3):207–223. doi:10.1080/08941920903360372

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Hein L, van Koppen K, de Groot RS, van Ierland E (2006) Spatial scales, stakeholders and the valuation of ecosystem services. Ecol Econ 57(2):209–228. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2005.04.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hou Y, Burkhard B, Müller F (2013) Uncertainties in landscape analysis and ecosystem service assessment. J Environ Manage 127:117–131. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.12.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Iftekhar MS, Takama T (2008) Perceptions of biodiversity, environmental services, and conservation of planted mangroves: a case study on Nijhum Dwip Island, Bangladesh. Wetl Ecol Manage 16(2):119–137. doi:10.1007/s11273-007-9060-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Instituto nazionale di statistica (ISTAT) (2012) Compendio statistico italiano: Italian Statistical Abstract 2011

  37. Jordan SJ, Hayes SE, Yoskowitz D, Smith LM, Summers JK, Russell M, Benson WH (2010) Accounting for natural resources and environmental sustainability. Linking ecosystem services to human well-being. Environ Sci Technol 44(5):1530–1536. doi:10.1021/es902597u

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Keller L (2009) Lebensqualität im Alpenraum. Innsbrucker Geographische Studien, vol 36. Geographie Innsbruck, Selbstverlag, Innsbruck

  39. Koellner T (2009) Supply and demand for ecosystem services in mountainous regions. In: Jandl R, Borsdorf A, van Miegroet H, Lackner R, Psenner R (eds) Global change and sustainable development in mountain regions. Proceedings of the COST Strategic Workshop, 1st ed. Innsbruck University Press, Innsbruck, pp 61–70

  40. Körner C (2009) Mountain vegetation and environment under change. In: Jandl R, Borsdorf A, van Miegroet H, Lackner R, Psenner R (eds) Global change and sustainable development in mountain regions. Proceedings of the COST Strategic Workshop, 1st ed. Innsbruck University Press, Innsbruck, pp 25–30

  41. Körner C, Ohsawa M (2005) Mountain Systems. In: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (ed) Ecosystems and human well-being. Current states and trends. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 681–716

  42. Krosnick JA (1999) Survey research. Annu Rev Psychol 50:537–567

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Lamarque P, Tappeiner U, Turner C, Steinbacher M, Bardgette R, Szukics U, Schermer M, Lavorel S (2011) Stakeholder perception of grassland ecosystem services in relation to knowledge on soil fertility and biodiversity. Reg Environ Chang 11:791–804. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01925.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Lele S, Springate-Baginski O, Lakerveld R, Deb D, Dash P (2013) Ecosystem Services: origins, contributions, pitfalls, and alternatives. Conserv Soc 11(4):343. doi:10.4103/0972-4923.125752

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Likert R (1932) A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Arch Psychol 140:1–55

    Google Scholar 

  46. Lugnot M, Martin G (2013) Biodiversity provides ecosystem services: scientific results versus stakeholders’ knowledge. Reg Environ Chang 13(6):1145–1155. doi:10.1007/s10113-013-0426-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Mace GM, Norris K, Fitter A (2012) Biodiversity and ecosystem services. A multilayered relationship. Trends Ecol Evol 27(1):19–26. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2011.08.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Malone EL, Dooley JJ, Bradbury JA (2010) Moving from misinformation derived from public attitude surveys on carbon dioxide capture and storage towards realistic stakeholder involvement. Int J Greenh Gas Control 4(2):419–425. doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2009.09.004

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Martín-López B, Iniesta-Arandia I, García-Llorente M, Palomo I, Casado-Arzuaga I, Amo DGD, Gómez-Baggethun E, Oteros-Rozas E, Palacios-Agundez I, Willaarts B, González JA, Santos-Martín F, Onaindia M, López-Santiago CA, Montes C, Bawa K (2012) Uncovering ecosystem service bundles through social preferences. PLoS One 7(6):e38970. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038970

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Maslow AH (1943) A theory of human motivation. Psychol Rev 50:370–396

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Maslow AH (1993) The farther reaches of human nature, 4th edn. Arkana, New York

    Google Scholar 

  52. Notter B, Hurni H, Wiesmann U, Abbaspour KC (2012) Modelling water provision as an ecosystem service in a large East African river basin. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 16(1):69–86. doi:10.5194/hess-16-69-2012

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Nussbaum MC (2006) Frontiers of justice Disability, nationality, species membership. The Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  54. Nussbaum MC, Sen A (eds) (1993) The quality of life. Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  55. Orenstein DE, Groner E (2014) In the eye of the stakeholder: changes in perceptions of ecosystem services across an international border. Ecosyst Serv 8:185–196. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.04.004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Petticrew M, Roberts H (2009) Systematic reviews in the social sciences. A practical guide, 8. [Dr.]. Blackwell, Malden

  57. Plieninger T, Dijks S, Oteros-Rozas E, Bieling C (2013) Assessing, mapping, and quantifying cultural ecosystem services at community level. Land Use Pol 33:118–129. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2012.12.013

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Raudsepp-Hearne C, Peterson G, Bennett E (2010) Ecosystem service bundles for analyzing tradeoffs in diverse landscapes. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107(11):5242–5247. doi:10.1073/pnas.0907284107

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Reid WV, Berkes F, Wilbanks T, Capistrano D (eds) (2006) Bridging scales and knowledge systems. Concepts and applications in ecosystem assessment. Island Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  60. Reyers B, O’Farrell PJ, Cowling RM, Egoh B, Le Maitre DC, Vlok JHJ (2009) Ecosystem services, land-cover change, and stakeholders: finding a sustainable foothold for a semiarid biodiversity hotspot. E&S 14:38

    Google Scholar 

  61. Rönnbäck P, Crona B, Ingwall L (2007) The return of ecosystem goods and services in replanted mangrove forests: perspectives from local communities in Kenya. Envi Conserv. doi:10.1017/S0376892907004225

    Google Scholar 

  62. Rüdisser J, Tasser E, Tappeiner U (2012) Distance to nature. A new biodiversity relevant environmental indicator set at the landscape level. Ecol Ind 15(1):208–216. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.09.027

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Satz D, Gould RK, Chan KMA, Guerry A, Norton B, Satterfield T, Halpern BS, Levin J, Woodside U, Hannahs N, Basurto X, Klain S (2013) The challenges of incorporating cultural ecosystem services into environmental assessment. Ambio 42:675–684. doi:10.1007/s13280-013-0386-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Schirpke U, Hölzler S, Leitinger G, Bacher M, Tappeiner U, Tasser E (2013) Can we model the scenic beauty of an alpine landscape? Sustainability 5(3):1080–1094. doi:10.3390/su5031080

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Schröter D, Cramer W, Leemans R, Prentice IC, Aroujo M, Arnell N, Bondeau A, Bugmann H, Carter T, Gracia J, de La Vega-Leiner A, Erhard M, Ewert F, Glendining M, House J, Kankaanpää S, Klein R, Lavorel S, Lindner M, Metzger MJ, Meyer J, Mitchell T, Reginster I, Rounsevell M, Sabaté S, Sitch S, Smith B, Smith J, Smith P, Sykes MT, Thonicke KTW, Tuck G, Zaehle S, Zierl B (2005) Ecosystem service supply and vulnerability to global change in Europe. Science 310(5752):1333–1337. doi:10.1126/science.1115233

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Schröter M, van der Zanden EH, Van Oudenhoven AP, Remme RP, Serna-Chavez HM, de Groot RS, Opdam P (2014) Ecosystem services as a contested concept: a synthesis of critique and counter-arguments. Conserv Lett. doi:10.1111/conl.12091

    Google Scholar 

  67. Scolozzi R, Morri E, Santolini R (2012) Delphi-based change assessment in ecosystem service values to support strategic spatial planning in Italian landscapes. Ecol Ind 21:134–144. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.07.019

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Seppelt R, Dormann CF, Eppink FV, Lautenbach S, Schmidt S (2011) A quantitative review of ecosystem service studies. Approaches, shortcomings and the road ahead. J Appl Ecol 48(3):630–636. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01952.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Statistik Austria (2013). http://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/index.html. Accessed 23 Oct 2013

  70. Summers JK, Smith LM, Case JL, Linthurst RA (2012) A review of the elements of human well-being with an emphasis on the contribution of ecosystem services. Ambio 41(4):327–340. doi:10.1007/s13280-012-0256-7

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Tappeiner U, Borsdorf A, Tasser E (eds) (2008) Alpenatlas. Mapping the Alps. Society, economy, environment. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg

  72. Tasser E, Schermer M, Siegl G, Tappeiner U (eds) (2012) Wir Landschaftmacher. Vom Sein und Werden der Kulturlandschaft in Nord-, Ost- und Südtirol. Athesia, Bozen

  73. TEEB (2010) The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity. Ecological and economic foundation, London

    Google Scholar 

  74. Veit H (2002) Die Alpen. Geoökologie und Landschaftsentwicklung. UTB Geowissenschaften, Ökologie, Biologie, vol 2327. Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim)

  75. Vihervaara P, Rönkä M, Walls M (2010) Trends in ecosystem service research. Early steps and current drivers. Ambio 39(4):314–324. doi:10.1007/s13280-010-0048-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Vilardy S, González JA, Martín-López B, Montes C (2011) Relationships between hydrological regime and ecosystem services supply in a Caribbean coastal wetland. A social-ecological approach. Hydrol Sci J 56(8):1423–1435

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Wahba MA, Bridwell LG (1976) Maslow reconsidered: a review of research on the need hierarchy theory. Organ Behav Hum Perform 15(2):212–240. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(76)90038-6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Walz A, Lardelli C, Behrendt H, Grêt-Regamey A, Lundström C, Kytzia S, Bebi P (2007) Participatory scenario analysis for integrated regional modelling. Landsc Urban Plan 81(1–2):114–131. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2006.11.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Wang S, Fu B, Wei Y, Lyle C (2013) Ecosystem services management. An integrated approach. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 5(1):11–15. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.01.003

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Welp M, La Vega-Leinert A, de Stoll-Kleemann S, Jaeger CC (2006) Science-based stakeholder dialogues: theories and tools. Glob Environ Chang 16(2):170–181. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2005.12.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all interviewees for their input to this study. Our special thanks go to Christian Georges and Gottfried Tappeiner for their useful advice and discussions, to Andrew Greenbank for his thorough proofreading and to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable input. This study was part of the project ‘SHIFT’ funded by the COMET programme, the Austrian Climate Research Funds project ‘CAFEE—Climate change in agriculture and forestry: an integrated assessment of mitigation and adaptation measures in Austria’, and the bi-national project ‘Ecology of the Alpine region’. Ulrike Tappeiner is a member of the research area ‘Alpine Space—Man and Environment’ at the University of Innsbruck.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christin Haida.

Additional information

Christin Haida and Johannes Rüdisser have contributed equally.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Haida, C., Rüdisser, J. & Tappeiner, U. Ecosystem services in mountain regions: experts’ perceptions and research intensity. Reg Environ Change 16, 1989–2004 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0759-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Alps
  • Perception of importance
  • Expert interviews
  • Quantitative literature review
  • Ecosystem service bundles (ESB)
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs