Mapping the ecosystem service delivery chain: Capacity, flow, and demand pertaining to aesthetic experiences in mountain landscapes

Lukas Egarter Vigl*, Daniel Depellegrin, Paulo Pereira, Rudolf de Groot, Ulrike Tappeiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Accounting for the spatial connectivity between the provision of ecosystem services (ES) and their beneficiaries (supply–benefit chain) is fundamental to understanding ecosystem functioning and its management. However, the interrelationships of the specific chain links within ecosystems and the actual benefits that flow from natural landscapes to surrounding land have rarely been analyzed. We present a spatially explicit model for the analysis of one cultural ecosystem service (aesthetic experience), which integrates the complete ecosystem service delivery chain for Puez-Geisler Nature Park (Italy): (1) The potential service stock (ES capacity) relies on an expert-based land use ranking matrix, (2) the actual supply (ES flow) is based on visibility properties of observation points along recreational routes, (3) the beneficiaries of the service (ES demand) are derived from socioeconomic data as a measure of the visitation rate to the recreation location, and (4) the supply–demand relationship (ES budget) addresses the spatially explicit oversupply and undersupply of ES. The results indicate that potential ES stocks are substantially higher in core and buffer zones of protected areas than in surrounding land owing to the specific landscape composition. ES flow maps reveal service delivery to 80% of the total area studied, with the highest actual service supply to locations with long and open vistas. ES beneficiary analyses show the highest demand for aesthetic experiences in all-season tourist destinations like Val Badia and Val Gardena, where both recreational amenity and overnight stays are equally high. ES budget maps identify ES hot and cold spots in terms of ES delivery, and they highlight ES undersupply in nature protection buffer zones although they are characterized by highest ES capacity. We show how decision/policy makers can use the presented methodology to plan landscape protection measures and develop specific regulation strategies for visitors based on the ES delivery chain concept.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-436
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Aesthetic values
  • Alpine landscapes
  • Ecosystem service budgeting
  • Ecosystem services delivery chain
  • Protected areas
  • Viewshed model

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