Ecosystem services mapping is traditionally based on land use and land cover data or on the spatial distribution of biophysical or abiotic assets and flows contributing to the provision of ecosystem services (Hindmarch et al., 2006). Our approach, however, is a stakeholder-based qualitative approach, aimed at mapping ecosystem services important to those living and working in the study area. We argue that this approach is more closely reflecting the philosophy of ecosystem services, that is, providing services to humans. By applying the social mapping urban forest governance and management can be tuned to users and beneficiaries' perceptions and expectations towards the urban forest.

Within the VOTES-project (, 39 ecosystem services beneficiaries localised the - according to them - most important ecosystem services within the study area: a landscape combining forest, valleys and farmland. This interview-based social mapping gives an insight into the spatial distribution of the selected ecosystem services and stakeholders' rationale behind pointing the areas as important. The sketches made by the stakeholders have been mapped and digitized (vector-based). Using rasterization in GIS, hotspots of ecosystem services and potential conflicts and synergies between ecosystem services and between specific ecosystem services and urbanisation/land use change have been localised.

The most frequently mapped ecosystem services were the cultural ecosystem services recreation, aesthetics and creating a sense of place, the regulating services creating habitat, opportunities for local species, flood protection and the provisioning service food production.

The areas of conflict and synergy have been mapped based on respondents' sketches and content analysis of the interview transcripts. Urbanisation was frequently quoted as a threat to ecosystem services delivery, and almost none of the respondents positioned ecosystem services in the urban area. On the other hand, respondents pointed (protected) valleys and woods as zones with opportunities for strengthened ecosystem services provisioning.

During the presentation, we will discuss the potential of the technique for ecosystem service non-monetary valuation, focusing on qualitative assessment of cultural ecosystem services and other ecosystem services that are hard to quantify.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication16th European Forum on Urban Forestry
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2013
EventUnknown -
Duration: 10 May 2013 → …


Period10/05/13 → …

    Research areas

  • ecosystem services, social assessment, valuation, participatory mapping

ID: 2316040