Cultural ecosystem services provided by the Baltic Sea marine environment

Eija Pouta1, Heini Ahtiainen1, Christine Bertram2, Eero Liski1, Katriina Soini1, Jürgen Meyerhoff3, Kristine Pakalniete4, Katrin Rehdanz2,5


1 Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Finland

2 Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Germany

3 Technische Universität (TU) Berlin, Germany

4 AktiiVS Ltd, Latvia

5 Kiel University, Germany


The concept of cultural ecosystem services (CES) brings out the importance of ecosystems in terms of their life-enriching and life-affirming contributions to human well-being. In contrast to provisioning and regulating services, cultural ecosystem services cover all the non-material, and normally non-consumptive, outputs of ecosystems that affect physical and mental states of people. We focus on the question about the relative importance of all CES in the marine environment, developing a measure that covers the entire CES range for the Baltic Sea and its coastal areas. The measure is based on the CICES ecosystem service classification and included eight ecosystem service categories: recreation, landscape, inspiration, learning and education, spiritual experiences and belonging, historically and culturally important places and existence of habitats. We use the measure in three Baltic Sea countries to identify the relative importance of various CES. In examining the whole range of various CES, we are also interested in defining the variables that explain the individually perceived composition of the importance of different CES. Furthermore, we identify categories of CES that are perceived to be separate and those that cluster with each other, as well as grouping individuals based on their perceptions on CES.

The results show that especially recreation, existence of habitats and landscape were considered important CES in the Baltic Sea. The importance of CES associated significantly with several variables describing the respondent’s sociodemographic background, use of the Baltic Sea and spatial factors. Most important explanatory variables were country, gender and recreational use of the Baltic Sea, and these factors were also used to predict the importance of the services.

The importance of CES differs significantly between countries, with recreation being the most important service in Latvia, while habitat is more important in Finland and Germany. People who do not visit the Baltic Sea place more emphasis on those CES which are less tangible and not associated with the use of coastal and marine areas, including education, spiritual and habitat services. Clustering of CES elements shows that several subcategories clustered together: education, spiritual and sense of belonging as well historic and cultural experiences. Second cluster of subcategories were recreation and landscape. Importance of habitats seems separate from the other CES. In addition, several CES are seen as less important, including inspiration, education, spiritual and historic and cultural experiences.