Mapping cultural ecosystem services: A framework to assess the potential for outdoor recreation across the EU

M.L. Paracchini, G. Zulian, L. Kopperoinen, J. Maes, J.P. Schagner, M. Termansen, M. Zandersen, M. Perez-Soba, P.A. Scholefield, G. Bidoglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

212 Citations (Scopus)


Research on ecosystem services mapping and valuing has increased significantly in recent years. However, compared to provisioning and regulating services, cultural ecosystem services have not yet been fully integrated into operational frameworks. One reason for this is that transdisciplinarity is required to address the issue, since by definition cultural services (encompassing physical, intellectual, spiritual interactions with biota) need to be analysed from multiple perspectives (i.e. ecological, social, behavioural). A second reason is the lack of data for large-scale assessments, as detailed surveys are a main source of information. Among cultural ecosystem services, assessment of outdoor recreation can be based on a large pool of literature developed mostly in social and medical science, and landscape and ecology studies. This paper presents a methodology to include recreation in the conceptual framework for EU wide ecosystem assessments (Maes et al., 2013), which couples existing approaches for recreation management at country level with behavioural data derived from surveys and population distribution data. The proposed framework is based on three components: the ecosystem function (recreation potential), the adaptation of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum framework to characterise the ecosystem service and the distribution of potential demand in the EU. Results show that 38% of the EU is characterised by a high outdoor recreation potential, which is easily accessible, and that such areas can host about 35.4% of potential demand for close-to-home trips (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-385
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • biodiversity
  • indicators
  • behavior
  • pattern

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