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Beyond Services: A Process & Framework to Incorporate Cultural, Genealogical, Place-Based, & Indigenous Relationships in Ecosystem Service Assessments

August 31, 2017 |

This paper was originally published in Ecosystem Services


  • Cultural ecosystem services (CESs) highlight key socio-cultural factors and reciprocal human-environmental interactions, both of which are essential in sustainable natural resource management and land-use planning.
  • Common CES categories such as recreation and scenic values do not adequately capture cultural values in place-based communities, or places where people have strong cultural, generational, and genealogical ties to land.
  • Eliciting CES through a place-based, participatory approach highlights the services that are most meaningful in a given location, which are conducive to long-term stewardship by the people of that place.

Abstract: Cultural ecosystem services (CES) – the non-material benefits realized through human-environmental interactions – contribute to ecosystem service assessments by revealing key social dimensions in natural resource management. Yet there is limited understanding of how CES are experienced by individuals with strong generational and genealogical ties to land.

Consequently place-based CES are frequently absent from management policies. We use a case study from Hawaiʻi to: 1) outline a process of eliciting place-based and indigenous CES; 2) develop a Hawai‘i-based CES framework that is adaptable to other place-based communities; 3) demonstrate how place-based CES compare/contrast with standard CES; and 4) discuss how this process can enhance resource management and land-use planning.

Through interdisciplinary methods drawing on multiple years of research and workshops in two rural Hawaiʻi communities, we highlight concepts not well captured in the existing CES literature including reciprocal relationships between people and place, sense of security, traditional values, and cultural subsistence.

Our framework presents CES from a Hawaiian place-based/indigenous point of view by highlighting four main categories: ʻIke (Knowledge),  Mana (Spiritual Landscapes), Pilina Kanaka (Social Interactions), and Ola Mau (Physical and Mental Wellbeing). Ultimately, this research provides a methodology to engage place-based communities when identifying CES in ecosystem service assessments…”

Read on and access the full paper at: Ecosystem Services.

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