by FJ Escobedo, M Bottin, D Cala, DLS Montoya
Urban Ecosystems 23: 1039-10492020
A range of participatory methods have previously been utilized in the spatial valuation of ecosystem services. However, few studies have been carried out in either urban or peri-urban areas, or in the Global South. Potential differences in spatial literacy and modeling approaches in this geographic area suggests the need for greater research in neo-tropical forest areas. The overall aim of the study was to examine how both two-dimensional (2D) maps and three-dimensional (3D) models influenced the identification of ecosystem services by respondents living in the area of Bogotá, Columbia. Objectives also included exploring differences between 2D and 3D, both in terms of words used to describe the nearby forests and associated ecosystems services, and if socio-demographic variables influenced the respondent’s ability to identify natural features. Machine learning statistical programs were used as part of the data analysis. Results showed that age and “local” residency were best at predicting the number of ecosystem services identified. More specifically, older local respondents identified the most ecosystem services, then younger urban participants. Type of map (i.e. 2D or 3D), age, and educational level were the three significant predictor variables for identifying predesignated sites. Overall, and especially with younger respondents, the 2D maps provided better results; but participants with higher levels of education were able to locate more sites on the 3D models. Respondents most frequently identified water regulation as an ecosystem service, and air quality was the second most frequent answer. There was no difference between the 2D maps and 3D models. In regards to forest ecosystem threats, participants most often cited urbanization and deforestation; although threats to wildlife and biodiversity were also noted. The authors observed that respondents interchangeably talked about multiple concepts (ecosystem function, ecosystem service and ecosystem threats and benefits), and therefore suggested that defining key concepts at the start of the interview and/or survey could help minimize this issue. Overall, the results provide useful insights into spatial literacy in the Global South, and how people view their nearby forest landscapes and benefits provided by these landscapes. The differences between 2D and 3D maps in participatory ecosystem services studies also provides new insights for future research. Finally, a better understanding of socio-demographic influences on the identification of ecosystem services can help education efforts around ecosystem benefits.