Tourism, Wellbeing and Ecosystem Services

The new COST Action Tourism, Wellbeing and Ecosystem Services had its kick-off meeting in Brussels at the end of November 2012. Bas Amelung and Dolf de Groot are involved. The project brings together aspects of ecosystem services (ES), which focus on life support systems, with more non-material services such as culture, health and wellbeing through tourism.


The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Study (TEEB 2010) highlighted the need to incorporate ecosystem services (ES) in economic decision-making to help prevent prejudicial decisions being made to the well-being of both current and future generations by the destruction of natural capital. Informing much of the intense policy making activity is a rapidly growing literature on ES which to date is mainly focussed on the importance of bio-physical assets. However, a significant complementary aspect of ES is the provision of cultural services, such as educational, spiritual and aesthetic values, along with related, important opportunities for recreational activities.  Unfortunately, these latter are the least understood aspects of ES, and yet they are significant parts of political agendas within the EU and globally. For example, health and wellbeing benefits provided by ES can be fed back to inform research on economic values, development strategies and public policy options derived from such knowledge. Tourism and recreation can be key factors of human wellbeing and provide a key interface between the different dimensions of ES, i.e. the tangible bio-physical vs. the intangible cultural services and their related health and wellbeing dimensions, which is as yet an under researched theme.


This COST Action aims to address this gap in knowledge and sets out to: a) explore, challenge and develop the interdisciplinary potentials of research in the fields of tourism, recreation, wellbeing, health and ecosystem services; and b) build bridges and promote knowledge transfer between the research, practitioner and policy-making communities, both across these knowledge areas and different European regions and contexts. This will be achieved by creating a collaborative European network of research centres in the fields of tourism and health sciences in a framework of resource management based on aspects of ES.

Expected results

The COST Action is expected to deliver the following benefits: i) the creation of a new research network that will act as a catalyst to innovate around tourism, well-being and ecosystem services by providing examples of best practice via case studies; ii) the transmission of best practice to wider groups - thereby acting as a mechanism for knowledge transfer; iii) the provision of new perspectives at an academic level as well as to practitioners and policy makers; and iv) the enhancement of a cohort of Early Career Researchers (including PhD students) across a range of disciplines.