Participatory mapping of cultural ecosystem services of urban green spaces in Zagreb

The Croatian Forest Research Institute reports in this article on the latest activities and results of the CULTUR-ES project in Zagreb (Croatia), which combines urban green infrastructure, cultural ecosystem services and public participation.

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Maksimir Park in Zagreb, Croatia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Miloš Vujčić

Cultural ecosystem services of urban green space are among the most important ecosystem services for people living in urban areas. In complex systems such as cities, urban green infrastructure, and urban forests especially are providers of those essential services resulting in higher citizens’ well-being and quality of life. Therefore, their assessment and incorporation into standard planning and management practice is important.

One of the best approaches to assessment and quantification of cultural ecosystem services is to apply participatory mapping with direct beneficiaries of those services. Such approach was implemented in the city of Zagreb, Croatia, as part of CULTUR-ES project (“Improving green infrastructure planning and management through participatory mapping of cultural ecosystem services”).

The project is implemented by the Croatian Forest Research Institute and funded by Croatian Science Foundation. Two PPGIS (public participation GIS) questionnaires have been developed in collaboration with project associates from Humboldt University of Berlin and University of Lodz, and utilised for the purpose of assessment and valuation of cultural ecosystem services and disservices provided by urban green infrastructure.

CULTUR-RES project is funded by the Croatian Science Foundation. Image: Croatian Forest Research Institute (CFRI).

Two questionnaires were employed in different spatial scales. One addressed one specific urban forest (historical Park Maksimir) collecting very detailed spatial data on routes people take in urban forest. Along those routes people were asked where and how do they perceive, and value green space attributes connected to cultural ecosystem services and disservices. The other questionnaire looked at the larger picture and collected data on perception and use of green space on the city level exploring how different types of urban green infrastructure (e.g. parks, forests, tree lines…) provide selected services and disservices. These questionnaires are partly based on the qualitative analysis of focus groups with citizens conducted in each city district in 2019.

We are very pleased that more than 600 people in total participated in our surveys in 2021. Data analyses are underway and complete results will be available by the end of 2022 as part of two dissertations.