Making space for cultural ecosystem services: Insights from a study of the UK nature improvement initiative

Robert Fish, Andrew Church, Cheryl Willis, Michael Winter, Jamie A. Tratalos, Roy Haines-Young, Marion Potschin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A study of the cultural ecosystem services (CES) arising from peoples’ interactions with the rural environment is conducted within the context of a landscape scale, ‘nature improvement’ initiative in the United Kingdom. Taking a mixed methodological approach, the research applies, and demonstrates empirically, a framework for CES developed under the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (Fish et al., 2016). Applications of the framework involve the study of the ‘environmental spaces’ and ‘cultural practices’ that contribute to the realisation of benefits to well-being. In this paper empirical work is undertaken to inform the CES evidence base informing management priorities of the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area (NDNIA) in south west England. Findings from a questionnaire survey, qualitative mapping, group discussion and a participatory arts-based research process are presented to document the many and diverse ways this study area matters to local communities. The paper analyses the qualities that research participants attribute to the environmental space of the NDNIA, the cultural practices conducted and enabled within it, and their associated benefits. The implications of the study for applying this framework through mixed methodological research are discussed, alongside an account of the impact of this approach within the NDNIA itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-343
Number of pages15
JournalEcosystem Services
Issue numberB
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Cultural ecosystem services
  • Shared values
  • Ecosystem assessment
  • Mixed-methodologies


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