Understanding how humans value and use ecosystems from a cultural aspect is vital for efforts to make social-ecological systems sustainable. Human preferences and values are nonmaterial and accordingly they are difficult to characterize for ecosystem management. Emerging techniques eliciting qualitative and quantitative data provide feasible means of deepening understanding of the nonmaterial dimensions of complex human-ecosystem relationships.
The NCEAS Working Group, Cultural ecosystem services from marine and coastal systems: Counting the intangibles, has produced three new research projects that provide a framework for employing quantitative and—where necessary—qualitative methods to explicitly consider cultural values in ecosystem planning. More>