The world is rapidly urbanising, with both positive and negative consequences. One major challenge is how to secure the long-term quality of life for urban residents. Many studies on quality of life are based on ‘material’ ecosystem services (i.e., provisioning and regulating services), with less attention paid to the non-material benefits gained from nature (e.g., green and blue spaces), which have been called cultural ecosystem services (CES). However, these non-material services are often most important to urban residents. Understanding perceptions and awareness of CES provided by urban blue space (i.e., water and wetlands) and green space (i.e., urban forest and grassland) are therefore important to support planning, creation, and protection of these spaces. To tackle these problems, we assessed and quantified the CES provided by urban green and blue space in six metropolitan areas of Beijing. By combining ecosystem services valuation with surveys (466 questionnaires and 16 expert interviews), we gained insights into residents’ perceptions of CES. Surprisingly, blue areas in metropolitan Beijing were valued at least 4.3 times higher than the value of green areas. More than 80% of the residents were willing to pay for maintenance of urban blue and green areas (an average of almost 64 RMB/year). The contributions of cultural services are likely to increase if stakeholders value natural ecosystems more in urban areas than in rural or mountainous areas because of the additional value of these rare resources in densely populated areas.
- Cultural services
- Ecosystem services valuation