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Environmental tastes, opinions and behaviors: social sciences in the service of cultural ecosystem service assessment

Tally Katz-Gerro, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa
Daniel E Orenstein, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07545-200328

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Abstract

Cultural ecosystem services are the nonmaterial ways in which humans derive benefits from ecosystems. They are distinct from other types of ecosystem services in that they are not only intangible, but they require an entirely different set of research tools to identify, characterize, and value them. We offer a novel way to assess how individuals perceive and use their local ecosystem, thereby advancing the state-of-the-art of cultural ecosystem service assessment. We identify distinct environmental "tastes" that represent general dispositions, preferences, or orientations regarding particular characteristics of the environment. We then use these environmental tastes to explain environmental behaviors (e.g., engagement in outdoor activities and resource conservation efforts) and opinions (e.g., perceived economic dependence on various environmental resources and opinions regarding environmentally focused development issues).

We identify three distinct environmental tastes: "Landscape" is associated with the visual and sensory landscape; "Biota" is associated with living elements of the environment; and "Desert" is associated with the extreme climatic characteristics of the environment. We report that the "Biota" environmental taste has wide-ranging impact on subsequent measures of pro-environmental behaviors and opinions. We maintain that this taste dimension is important for the ability of researchers, land use managers, and policy-makers to understand and evaluate cultural ecosystem services and to characterize how humans perceive them and benefit from them.

Key words

cultural ecosystem services; environmental attitudes and behaviors; environmental tastes; hyperarid ecosystems; socio-ecology

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087