Landscape Capacity for Ecosystem Services Provision Based on Expert Knowledge and Public Perception (Case Study from the Northwest Slovakia)

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Landscape represents appropriate spatial dimension for a study of ecosystems, especially due to ability to translate scientific knowledge into proper guidance for land use practice and enhancing the inclusion of local stakeholders in decision-making procedures. We tested social preferences method to reach initial and raw overview of the ecosystem services (ES) distribution and their values in the study areas. Perception of experts and local residents about capacities of relevant CORINE land cover (CLC) types to provide various ES was linked with Geographic Information System databases. We quantified the results on the basis of the mean values for each CLC type and the ES groups and these were interpreted also in spatial context. The expectation about perceptible capacities of forest to provide goods and services was fulfilled by responses of the experts, as was the expected difficulty to assess capacities of transitional woodland shrub or complex cultivation patterns. However, additional land cover types in question are meadows and pastures or discon-tinuous urban fabric. Mostly middle ranking values prevail in responses of local residents and uncertainty in the background is much greater comparing to the experts. On the other hand, rural people may better recognise diversified fow of services due to their everyday close connection to more ES. Large variation in the scores of some valued CLC classes in responses of the local residents and also experts seems resulting from lack of knowledge in the background and differences in viewpoint and appreciation. We understand the gaps in evaluating ES by the experts and resident population as good experience and key challenge for the further steps and fine-tuning of the research methods.

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