Integrating Cultural Ecosystem Services valuation into coastal wetlands restoration: A case study from South Australia
Elaborating the benefits humans receive from coastal wetlands using a Cultural Ecosystem Services assessment is an emergent and important field linking human wellbeing to ecosystem function. Translating these benefits into useable concepts for environmental policymakers, and managers is challenging yet important for supporting landscape restoration projects. This study responds to the call for Cultural Ecosystem Services case studies beyond the northern hemisphere. A household survey of residents adjacent to a peri-urban coastal wetland in South Australia and an online survey of interest groups were administered to identify co-benefits associated with a coastal restoration project in the region. A dynamic/relational cultural values framework guided the analysis. Findings reveal that visitation has a positive influence; people valued most the places with which they were familiar. The analysis confirms a mutual connection between: ‘doing’ (undertaking an activity), environmental awareness and appreciation, the formation of attachment to place, and having positive experiences. The analysis also points out that the naturalness of this coastline is highly valued. The findings here diverge from previous coastal landscape assessments based singularly on scenic value. The implication is that localised, place-based landscape assessments which include cultural values, offer a more deliberative approach to policy development and planning and will more likely incorporate what matters most to people.