Citizens in Greater Bilbao regard the services of the Green Belt ecosystems as highly beneficial

Aug 20, 2013
Izaskun Casado, is a member of the research group into Landscape, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, and author of the work. Credit: UPV/EHU

According to Izaskun Casado-Arzuaga, ecosystems provide more services than what many people believe. And their value is not in fact limited to the possibilities they offer in terms of landscape, aesthetic aspects or leisure. Casado is one of the members of the research group into Landscape, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and, in her opinion, it is important to remember the other services offered by ecosystems. Among them she refers to supply services, like food, water, energy and materials, as well as regulating services like, for example, to guarantee water and air quality and protect against flooding, etc. In this respect, "we regard many of these services as being free, but the benefits, which are invaluable, are highly beneficial and necessary," says Casado.

As the researchers explain, even though Metropolitan Bilbao has undergone many changes, the green belt takes up 75% of the . "There are mountains, forests, , rivers and streams, beaches, marshes and dunes, cliffs and scrubland," they point out.

But how do citizens rate the services offered by these ecosystems? To find out, the researchers drew up a comprising 30 questions, and interviewed 500 people.

In view of the responses, nearly all the respondents are aware that ecosystems provide services and they value and appreciate them. However, even though nearly 80% of the respondents identified the cultural services (leisure, landscape, tranquillity, etc.), only a third of them identified the regulating services, and even fewer (1.8%) identified the supply services.

The survey also highlighted the fact that the most highly rated services are the improvement in and biodiversity conservation. By contrast, most of the respondents (88%) are prepared to collaborate in preserving the area. The that exert a positive influence on this decision are, among others, being from an urban background, being young, visiting the protected areas and being a woman.

Citizen participation is needed

In view of the results, the researchers observed that many citizens are unable to identify the supply services; the farming activities are in fact very scarce in the area. However, they are highly rated by the citizens, since most of the came out in favour of promoting the rural areas. And they are making a request to those responsible: that they should highlight the value of the ecosystems in the Green Belt and apply the right regulation.

The researchers have in fact said that research and the promoting of citizen participation are necessary to decide the future of the ecosystems. In their view, "to be able to decide about the ecosystems in Greater Bilbao, we need to have as much information as possible and the deepest possible knowledge about the current situation and the possibilities for the future."

So they believe that it is essential that research of this type be conducted and that their results should be taken into consideration by those responsible for making decisions. "Once the services offered by the ecosystems and the opinion of citizens are known, we will have available a solid base to work out what future we want," they conclude.

Explore further: Water crisis threatens thirsty Sao Paulo

More information: The whole piece of research has been published in the Journal of Environmental Management "Perception, demand and user contribution to ecosystem services in the Bilbao Metropolitan Greenbelt." www.sciencedirect.com/science/… ii/S0301479713003885

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mapping the benefits of our ecosystems

Jul 01, 2013

We rely on our physical environment for many things – clean water, land for crops or pastures, storm water absorption, and recreation, among others. Yet it has been challenging to figure out how to sustain the many benefits ...

Seeing the hidden services of nature

Mar 02, 2010

Following an intense study of agricultural ecosystems near Montreal, a new tool that enables the simultaneous analysis and management of a wide range of ecological services has been developed by Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne of McGill ...

Conserving biodiversity could benefit the world's poor

Jan 12, 2012

Land areas that are a priority for wildlife conservation provide relatively high levels of ecosystem services such as pollination, water purification, food production, and climate regulation, so safeguarding them is expected ...

Recommended for you

Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

34 minutes ago

In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some ...

New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

5 hours ago

Federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must involve increased investment in research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, according to a new paper published by the University of Wyoming's ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

10 hours ago

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

User comments : 0