Recreation as an ecosystem service in open landscapes in the Mediterranean region in Israel: Public preferences

Gili Koniak*, Efrat Sheffer, Imanuel Noy-Meir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years awareness has increased of the importance of open landscapes (natural and semi-natural) for human use, including provision of life-supporting ecological benefits and services. In addition there has been an increase in awareness and demand for recreational activities in nature: cultural, social, sport, and spiritual activities outside of the urban setting. A partial list of all of the environmental benefits or services could add up to dozens of economical, biological, and social benefits. Social benefits such as recreation are just one component of the spectrum of benefits and services that can be derived from natural systems.In this research we assessed the ecosystem service of recreation in a natural setting in the Mediterranean region in Israel. We focused on two specific benefits: picnics and hikes. We assessed recreationers' preferences using questionnaire-based surveys that were carried out directly at the research site, Ramat Hanadiv Park (RH park), while people were conducting the particular activity (picnic or hike). The research aim was to estimate the preferences of hikers and picnickers for different types of natural vegetation formations. We found that visitors preferred to hike in the open garrigue compared to either the dense scrub or the pine forest, whereas for picnics both the open garrigue and the planted pine forest were preferred over the dense scrub. We tested the attractiveness of each component of the landscape (e.g., trees, flowers, animals, archaeology) for hikers and picnickers. Surveys showed that scenery was highly and unanimously ranked. Flowering plants, birds, native trees, and to some extent gazelles, deer, and butterflies were ranked high, while reptiles, beetles, and cattle received a much lower attractiveness rank. The ranking of archeological sites and pine forest was more variable, and intermediate to the two main groups above. We analyzed these preferences according to different age and population distributions of visitors to the park and found only slight effects of the level of education.The answers from this research can facilitate land managers and decision-makers in providing the ecosystem service of recreation, and to guide management for obtaining the desired vegetation formations for this aim, according to the preferences of hikers and picnickers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)151-171
Number of pages21
JournalIsrael Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Volume57
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2011

Keywords

  • ecological benefits
  • ecosystem-based management
  • life-supporting systems
  • multiple benefits use
  • open spaces
  • recreation

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