Understanding cultural ecosystem services related to farmlands: Expert survey in Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are nonmaterial benefits that people obtain from ecosystems. The CES subcategories cover a wide range of domains (e.g. recreation, conservation of cultural heritage, human-nature relations). The CES concept has been proposed to acknowledge the nonmaterial values linking people and nature in social-ecological systems. Agricultural landscapes are outstanding examples of complex social-ecological systems where synergies and trade-offs between production and conservation determine the CES values. Europe is still rich in such landscapes/systems with outstanding cultural and natural values that deliver a multitude of CES. In this paper, we address the knowledge and perceptions of identified experts on the role of CES in the management of European agricultural landscapes. To achieve this goal, we developed a questionnaire on CES which was answered by experts working with various issues of European agricultural landscapes, including sustainable agriculture, landscape ecology, grassland management, nature conservation, cultural heritage conservation, environmental policy, sustainability research and rural development. The results show a wide knowledge and acceptance of the CES concept within such expert communities. Especially the aesthetic, cultural heritage, educational and recreational values were considered the most relevant CES subcategories. Interdisciplinary approaches, landscape planning and integrative science-policy approaches were perceived as the most promising methodologies to improve the CES approach for policy and management. Our results also show that according to experts the CES concept is still far from practical implementation in policies that target agricultural landscapes. In order to sustain such systems, we suggest the better implementation of inter- and transdisciplinary research for the development of CES-integrative policy and decision-making.


External organisations
  • Sapientia – Hungarian University of Transylvania
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
  • University of the Philippines Los Baños
  • Babes Bolyai University
  • Butterfly Conservation Europe
  • German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use


  • Cultural ecosystem services, Expert, Inter- and transdisciplinary, Landscape planning and management, Policy, Social-ecological systems
Original languageEnglish
Article number104900
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch