Cultural worldviews consistently explain bundles of ecosystem service prioritisation across rural Germany.

Published online
08 Aug 2022
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Peter, S. & Provost, G. le & Mehring, M. & Müller, T. & Manning, P.
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Differences in ecosystem service (ES) priorities often lead to conflicts between stakeholders. While differences in priorities have often been described, the sociocultural factors, including differences in cultural worldview, which drive them have not. We propose that the cultural theory of risk and its 'grid-group' typology, which classifies people as individualists, hierarchists, egalitarians and fatalists, can provide a conceptual framework for doing this. We examined the relationship between ES prioritisation by stakeholders and underlying cultural (cultural worldviews, and related environmental nature and risk perceptions), sociocultural (region, stakeholder group, political party preference) and socio-demographic factors. This was achieved by applying multivariate statistics to data from a survey with 321 respondents, conducted across 14 stakeholder groups in three German regions. Results show that most stakeholders prioritised many services but gave the highest priority to services linked to their stakeholder group. We identified four 'ES priority bundles': cultural services, open-land provisioning services, environmental protection services and forest provisioning services. Each ES priority bundle was consistently associated with particular cultural worldviews, perceptions of nature and sociocultural factors, meaning that we could identify 'cultural types'. Two of these associations were particularly strong: Prioritisation of open-land provisioning ES was high for the agriculture stakeholder group, associated with individualism, a perception of nature as durable but unpredictable, and support for economic liberal, conservative political parties. In contrast, those who prioritised environmental protection tended to hold egalitarian cultural worldviews and perceive nature as tolerant and sensitive. They also often belonged to the research and nature conservation stakeholder groups, with a mostly left-leaning political party preference. The identification of cultural types of stakeholder with consistent ES priorities and cultural worldviews may provide a useful construct in the future ES research. Furthermore, it may allow communications regarding ES to be tailored to improve their effectiveness, potentially aiding the promotion of sustainable management strategies.

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