The Flows of Nature to People, and of People to Nature: Applying Movement Concepts to Ecosystem Services

Rachel Dolan, James M. Bullock, Julia P.G. Jones, Ioannis N. Athanasiadis, Javier Martinez-lopez, Simon Willcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To date, the provision of ecosystem services has largely been estimated based on spatial patterns of land cover alone, using benefit transfer analysis. Although it is increasingly being recognised that the distribution of the human population affects whether a potential service translates into a realised service, this misses key steps in the process and assumes that everyone accesses ecosystem services in the same way. Here we describe a conceptual approach to ecosystem services in terms of movement and flows. We highlight that ecosystem service flows can be broken down into ‘nature to people’ (the movement of nature towards beneficiaries) and ‘people to nature’ (the movement of beneficiaries towards nature). The former has been relatively well described. Here, we explore the latter by reviewing research on human migration, animal foraging and landscape connectivity. We assess if and how existing theories might be useful in describing how people seek out ecosystem services. We consider some of the ways in which flows of people to nature can be measured. Such measurements may reveal which movement theories best represent how people seek out and access ecosystem services. Overall, our review aims to improve the future modelling of ecosystem services by more explicitly considering how people access potential services and therefore realise them.
Original languageEnglish
Article number576
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2021

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The Flows of Nature to People, and of People to Nature: Applying Movement Concepts to Ecosystem Services'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this