Analysis of the relationship between cross-cultural perceptions of landscapes and cultural ecosystem services in Genheyuan region, Northeast China

Dou, Yuehan; Yu, Xiubo; Bakker, Martha; Groot, Rudolf De; Carsjens, Gerrit J.; Duan, Houlang; Huang, Chao


A major challenge today and in the future is to maintain or enhance the beneficial contributions of landscapes to the quality of life of people. Neglecting cultural ecosystem services (CES) in landscape planning can lead to loss of unique cultural landscapes and undermine the well-being of local communities. Despite a rapidly increasing body of literature on CES, little is known about the relationship between socio-cultural values and the non-material benefits of landscapes. To help fill this gap, we assessed the perceptions of people from different ethnic groups about the cultural ecosystem services of local landscapes. We took the Genheyuan National Wetland Park and the adjacent forest areas, a typical mountain forest-wetland ecosystem, as our case area. By combining surveys (250 semi-structured interviews and 26 local stakeholders in Focus Group Discussion) with structural equation modelling (SEM), we gained insights into the importance of landscapes to CES provision from the perspective of stakeholder diversity. Surprisingly, wetlands are perceived as playing more important roles than other landscape types in providing diverse CES, with a 1.25 times higher CES Diversity Index (CDI) than that of forests. Among all demographic factors, ethnicity is most significant in determining people's perceptions, reflecting the spiritual cognition, manners, and customs of the ethnic groups. The perceptions of CES provided by landscapes are likely to increase if landscape characteristics are attached more to functions in order to meet fundamental human needs.