The concept of ecosystem services is gaining increased importance in Norwegian environmental policy and management. Most research on ecosystem services mapping and modeling do not include empirical data on social values and preferences. Local community preferences are particularly ignored in large-scale analysis, partly due to the costs and complexity of mapping local values on such a large scale. CultEs emphasizes on that adaptive management of local and global ecosystem services need the development of methodology, which could improve the link between social preferences and large-scale analyses. Hereby, aiming at testing and developing technology that could improve this link.

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The red-painted T‘s are found in many popular recreational areas in Norway, marking trails and hiking routes done by the Norwegian Trekking Association (Photo: Sigrid Engen).

CultEs uses innovative technologies and methodologies that could contribute to bottom up adaptive management of local- and global ecosystem services. The use of web-based PPGIS, mobile apps, and social media are tested out as tools to map values and preferences of local residents and tourists at a larger scale in mountainous areas of Norway. In depth studies of cultural ecosystem services, as well as field studies of ecological structures and processes coupled to the preferences are studied in this project on a smaller scale. The applicability of participatory mapping on paper or internet for adaptive management of ecosystem services is also evaluated for use the Arctic and other alpine regions of the world.

“Protected areas provide important ecosystem services globally but few studies have examined how cultural differences influence the distribution of cultural ecosystem values and management preferences” (Brown et al. 2015).

 Applying new technologies to support long-term integrated landscape management of cultural and natural values, is one of the main objectives. Here results are directly relevant for the newly established protected area management boards in the Alpine North and aims at strengthening collaboration with users through advisory boards.


Emphasizing on public participation GIS (PPGIS), as a tool, can engage local communities in defining their own values and preferences for management of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services depend on how people define and value them, and therefore a bottom-up process to define the importance of ecosystems services is a first step to adaptive management of potential threats to these services.

“Because conservation policies are more likely to achieve long-term success if accepted by local residents, we investigated how local preferences align with the current conservation policy in Norway using data from online participatory mapping (PPGIS). We found a high support for the current conservation policy of restricting property- and industry development inside protected areas but low support of wilderness conservation (Engen and Hausner, forthcoming).”

Maps of “Midtre Nordland” are used as PPGIS tools to engage local communities in defining their own values and preferences for management of the environments they live in.

 CultEs focus on adaptive management of the non-material benefits that people derive from nature (cultural ecosystem services), however, the values have to be linked to spatial explicit ecosystem features and disturbances affecting such values. We aim to establish this link and develop new models and methods for dynamic and science-based adaptive management of cultural ecosystem services that can be applied at a landscape scale.The study sites are located in the European environmental zone called the Alpine North.

Arctic Norway (Varanger) was  originally included in TUNDRA and has been continued in EsArctic. At this site we are using paper-based participatory mapping and face-to-face interviews to identify important ecosystem services.The case studies of CultEs are two alpine areas with a cluster of parks that represent differences in management regimes in Norway:

  • Midtre Nordland which is characterized by state property, reindeer herding and representation of the Sami Council in the park boards.
  • A cluster of parks in Nasjonalparkriket (Jotunheimen, Breheimen and Reinheimen, Jostedalsbreen + LVOs), which include state commons and Parish Commons.




New methods such as PPGIS and mobile Apps allow quantitative analysis of spatial heterogeneity of cultural ecosystem services and disparities in values and preferenced among people. The latter together with knowledge and data are important when analyzing and monitoring biophysical factors as well.

Track and Tag app

In CultEs we have developed a mobile app to analyze visitor patterns and ecosystem services, and how visitors of Jotunheimen use nature . The mobile app allows users to map points were services and impacts percieved by visitors can be recorded. The app also includes a short survey. Our findings will be shared with park managers in order to provide them with tools to inform decision making. Check the app out here!



We will analyze geotagged pictures uploaded on the Flickr platform by visitors to Jotunheimen National Park and we will categorize them according to the ecosystem service they represent. The aim of this method is to assess the validity of crowdsourcing to study cultural ecosystem services. Data will be validated with a PPGIS study conducted in Jotunheimen National Park, where visitors to the park mapped their values on an online survey.

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The incredible view of Gjendesheim in the Jotunheimen National Park (Photo: Lorena Munoz).

Sample point

Human use and ecosystem services such as wild berries, wildlife cues and flowering plants could be identified on photos for analyzing changes at the landscape scale. We will take a total of 4000 pictures on the Varanger peninsula related to the project EsArctic. We located transects from the coastline to the inner part of the peninsula to cover different vegetation types and areas with differing human use. Pictures are being analyzed with the Sample point software, which classifying the elements on the picture (vegetation, rocks, bare ground, pellets) based on a grid of 100 points laid on each picture. This data will be used to analyze ecosystem services and human impacts on vegetation.

Additionally pictures of the vegetation around trails in Jotunheimen National Park were collected during the summer season in 2015 and 2016 in relation to the fieldwork of CultEs. These pictures will be analyzed with the Sample point software in order to find the effects of tourism in the vegetation around the trails. Pictures were collected on set intervals in a straight line of 50 meters perpendicular to major attractors (cabins and trails) in order to account for a possible gradient impact channelized by cabins and trails.

New methods such as PPGIS and Mobile Apps used in CultEs allow quantitative analysis of spatial heterogeneity of cultural ecosystem services and the disparities in values and preferences among people in broader alpine landscapes in Nordland and Southern Norway. The testing of new ICT facilitated tools such as the Track and Tag mobile app and PPGIS give possibilities to include the public in monitoring ecosystem services and to get the public views on actions relevant to adapt to climate change on larger scales. In recent studies we have shown, however, that value transfer from one region to the other is not sufficient based on biophysical factors alone.


Studies of CultEs show that, despite the shared roots of subsistence uses such as grazing, hunting, fishing, firewood, and timber, the state commons do not share all values and preferences with the village commons. The protected areas that overlay state commons, such as Jotunheimen and Jostedalsbreen, are tourist hotspots in Norway, and provision of tourism facilities in the park is a major source of income for the villages nearby. There was also less emphasis on hunting, fishing and grazing than expected in the state commons compared to the village commons. Ecosystem values and land use preferences identified in the state commons have more locals mapping biodiversity, wilderness, and amenity values that are typically associated with protected areas (Hausner et al. 2015).

In the village commons, all members have hunting and fishing rights that reflect strong traditional values associated with consumptive uses. The hunting of large game, particularly wild reindeer, is especially valuable for these communities and could explain the strong interest in predator control and the negative attitudes toward disturbances by motorized use. Traditional common rights are not affected by protected area regulations, but studies show that local people are negative to Breheimen National Park as they feel the right of disposal has been curtailed by establishing protected areas on their land (Hausner et al 2015).

CultEs has confirmed the importance of Cultural ecosystem services (CES) for peoples identity, enrichment andnatur experiences.

Hunting/fishing and gathering activity appears more important for recreation in Norwegian society while the pasturing of animals is valued for maintaining cultural landscapes. We included these multi-function ecosystem values for contrast and comparison with the cultural value results (Brown et al 2016).


CultEs working comparatively between regions and countries, is finding differences and similarities in what people think is important. By using PPGIS we found Norwegians to emphasize values relating to recreational use of resources (e.g., hunting/fishing, gathering) while Polish respondents, emphasizes scenery, biological diversity, and water quality. With respect to management preferences, Norwegians identified more preferences for resource utilization while Polish respondents identified more preferences for conservation (Brown et al. 2015). This comparison also shows the importance of random recruitment as Norway was dominated by mid-aged males (mostly through randomly selected household) while in the Polish case more people were recruited through volunteer organizations being somewhat biased towards young females.

Om National Park Village in Alpine Norway (Photo: Vera Hausner).

Norwegian respondents were more satisfied with protected area management and local participation which can be explained by historical, legal, and cultural differences between the two countries. For Norway, biodiversity conservation in protected areas will continue to be guided by sustainable use of protected areas, rather than strict nature protection, with management favoring local board control and active public participation. For Poland, change in protected area management to enhance biodiversity conservation is less certain, driven by national environmental values that conflict with local values and preferences, continuing distrust in government, and low levels of civic participation.

The beautiful view of the waterfall “Brekkefossen”, in the nature reserve of Flåm in Norway (Photo: Sigrid Engen).

“The purpose of Norwegian protected areas is to safeguard areas of vulnerable and threatened nature, cultural heritage and cultural landscapes, and give the public the opportunity to experience nature through simple recreation.” (Engen & Hausner 2017).

The sharing of governance responsibilities is among the emerging trends in environmental management. More effective and informed decision-making is believed to result when people closer to the issues at hand are involved. Increased participation also has the potential to reduce conflicts. During our research we have investigated;

1) The effect of decentralization on local use

2) The social acceptability of the current conservation policy in Norway

3) The role of stakeholder participation through advisory councils and

4) Compared conservation rules in Norway and British Columbia.

“We investigated the effect of decentralization on local use. We found that the conservation practices were liberal both before and after the reform and that the impact of local empowerment on conservation practices was contingent on land tenure: more use was allowed after the reform on private land” (Engen & Hausner).

Protected area governance in Norway before an after the reform. A) The location of the protected areas included in the study. B) Before the reform: The regional government responsible for the protected areas in each county are marked in grey and labeled. C+D) After the reform: local protected area boards manage clusters of protected areas, which are encircled. Protected area designations (IUCN categories) are shown in different shades of green. The proportion of public and private land managed by each protected area board is shown as pie charts (Engen & Hausner 2017).

“We examined stakeholder participation in Norwegian protected area governance.  Results show that the stakeholders are highly knowledgeable and experienced. They see the current model of advisory councils as the preferred approach to participation, but wish to be more involved than at present. Advisory councils can become a great asset if efforts are made to make participation mutually beneficial for all parties in order to advance towards achieving benefits like knowledge co-production and social learning” (Engen et al. 2017, forthcoming).

CultEs focus on the non-material benefits such as spiritual enrichment, cultural identity, recreation, and esthetic experiences and the therapeutic values that could improve people’s mental and physical health. Although many locals mapped such values, in particularly scenic, recreation and wilderness values, they often combine it with hunting, fishing and gathering activities. The importance of working landscapes is also evident in the prioritization of increased grazing to maintain cultural landscapes. Tourists that mapped important places in Jotunheimen did not acknowledge such values (Munoz et al., forthcoming).

Our results are consistent with Fauchald et al. (2014) suggesting that strong norms of sustainable use are embedded in Norwegian conservation policies. In contrast, management of protected areas in Poland has traditionally been top-down with centralized authority. Likewise, comparative studies verify how regional and cultural perceptions are important  to  understand distribution of cultural ecosystem values and management preferences. These, vary in relation to time and space, and to capture these distributions  of cultural ecosystem values,  PPGIS is a good tool (Brown et al. 2013, 2015).

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