National scale mapping of supply and demand for recreational ecosystem services

Hooftman, Danny A.P.; Ridding, Lucy E. ORCID:; Redhead, John W.; Willcock, Simon. 2023 National scale mapping of supply and demand for recreational ecosystem services. Ecological Indicators, 154, 110779. 9, pp.

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Cultural ecosystem services (CES) are often underrepresented in ecosystem service assessments, despite the importance of these benefits. Recreation is often used to represent CES, however identifying, quantifying, and mapping these services continues to be a challenge. In this study, we develop a national CES map predicting recreation demand (e.g. walking, hiking, cycling) for the United Kingdom (UK). Recreation demand is calculated as the number of projected visits for local recreation, estimated using the universal law of human mobility which accounts for the attractiveness of an area. Recreation demand was found to be the greatest in areas surrounding high population centres, compared with protected sites which were deemed more attractive but were in more remote areas. This pattern was most pronounced when evaluating weekly visits, but was still evident where the visit frequency was reduced to annual. In this study, we also evaluate whether this demand is met for recreation by assessing the presence of paths. The mean for met demand (paths present) was 4.5 times greater than unmet demand (paths absent) for yearly visits across the UK. Generally, in the areas of highest demand close to populated centres, paths were present, making 84% of all yearly recreational demand met by path infrastructure. However, paths are lacking from 42% of the UK, with some of these areas coinciding with higher recreation demand, for example in the northeast and parts of Wales. Our study therefore highlights not only where the recreation demand is highest and access should be maintained, but also where demand for recreation exists but the infrastructure including paths are not present, and therefore has the potential to be improved. This information is useful for policy makers and land managers, as it allows areas to be prioritised for the maintenance and improvement of recreation provision under new land management policy.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 1470-160X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: accessibility, attractiveness, cultural services, paths, protected areas, travelling distance
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
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Date made live: 09 Nov 2023 11:35 +0 (UTC)

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