Call for Papers: Special issue on “Putting Culture back into Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES): Case Studies on CES and Conservation from the Global South”

Call for Papers:

Special issue on “Putting Culture back into Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES): Case Studies on CES and Conservation from the Global South”

Cultural ecosystem services (CES) have been defined as the “intangible and non-material benefits that people enjoy from ecosystems,” first introduced in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA 2005). The MEA specified several potential categories of CES, including cultural diversity; spiritual and religious values; knowledge systems; educational values; inspiration; aesthetic values; social relations; sense of place; and recreation and ecotourism (MEA 2005). Since the MEA, there has been a large increase in attention to how CES are defined, identified, valued, and conserved in policy and projects (Trainor 2006; Chan, Satterfield, and Goldstein 2012; Hirons et al 2016), reflecting their importance as a concept to multiple groups of people.

Yet there remain major gaps in our understanding of CES. First, most of the work to date has not focused on the Global South; recent special issues on the topic have exclusively focused on developed countries like the UK (Bryce et al 2016; Cooper et al. 2016). On-the-ground studies of how suites of ES are used in culturally specific ways in developing countries remain relatively rare (Rasmussen et al. 2016).Further, methodologies that are used to evaluate or value CES in a developed country context (like travel cost methods or social media postings) (Kenter 2017) may not be as appropriate in the developing world, leading to challenges in implementation of CES projects and policies.  Second, many understandings of ‘culture’ in CES literature refer more to recreational or touristic values (Ihammar & Pedersen 2017), rather than a deep engagement with what the concept of culture means. Issues surrounding cultural practices, such as religion and spirituality, taboos, epistemologies & ontologies, and other fields are rarely invoked in the cultural ES literature, despite calls for the past few years to do so (Chan et al., 2012; Gould et al. 2015). Finally, how CES can contribute to conservation outcomes for biodiversity or ecosystems are not yet fully explored in the literature, nor practical lessons learned easy to draw from experiences to date.  As Pascua et al. (2017) note “identifying CES in an accurate and culturally appropriate way is vital in resource management efforts, particularly if they can make place-based values visible before important decisions are made.” Yet much additional work remains before such decision-making can be made around CES. 

Thus, we are seeking papers for a special issue devoted to CES in the Global South and their role in conservation. The aim is to publish the papers after a review process as a special issue of a targeted journal. Submission targets include Conservation LettersBiological Conservationor similar journals. We invite papers from a range of disciplines to contribute to this proposed special issue. Submissions may range from specifying types of cultural ES to policies to support CES to methodologies for researching CES. We particularly are interested in papers with coauthors from the Global South and work done with communities to assess local CES concepts. The special issue will be sponsored and edited with the support of members of the Commission on Ecosystem Management  (CEM) and the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) of IUCN. The special issue is being proposed by the Thematic Group on Cultural Practices and Ecosystem Management (CPEM) of CEM.

Possible topical themes for papers:

– How can concepts like understandings of well-being and resilience be incorporated in CES (Bryce et al. 2016; Bullock et al 2018)?

– What challenges, such as cultural identity, language erosion, land rights, justice and equity, etc., do CES policies face in the Global South? 

– Can CES be separated from other forms of ES? How are they mutually constituted? For example, what cultural practices have shaped ES provisioning in different contexts?

– Are CES always non-material? How can we account for material cultural ES?

– What are the ways in which CES can help inform conservation decision-making? Are there best practices learned from incorporation of CES?

– How can different knowledge systems & worldviews be represented in the concept of CES?

– How can CES incorporate attention to cultural sensitivity, awareness and safeguards? 

– How do CES relate to other approaches like cultural landscapes and heritage (Cuerrier et al 2015; Lepofsky et al 2017)?

– How are CES being impacted by climate and other environmental changes?

– What kinds of methods are best suited to evaluate and value CES (Hirons et al. 2016)? How can methods be made more interdisciplinary or participatory?

Deadlines: Interested participants should send an abstract of no more than 500 words by Aug 15, 2019 to Selected authors will be informed by Aug 30 to prepare a full manuscript for submission to the editors by Dec 15, 2019. The aim for publication is for end of 2020/early 2021. 


Bryce, R., Irvine, K. N., Church, A., Fish, R., Ranger, S., & Kenter, J. O. (2016). Subjective well-being indicators for large-scale assessment of cultural ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services21(Part B), 258–269.

Bullock, C., Joyce, D., & Collier, M. (2018). An exploration of the relationships between cultural ecosystem services, socio-cultural values and well-being. Ecosystem Services31(Part A), 142–152.

Chan, Kai, Terre Satterfield, and Joshua Goldstein. 2012. “Rethinking Ecosystem Services to Better Address and Navigate Cultural Values.” Ecological Economics74: 8–18. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.11.011.

Cooper, N., Brady, E., Steen, H., & Bryce, R. (2016). Aesthetic and spiritual values of ecosystems: Recognising the ontological and axiological plurality of cultural ecosystem “services.” Ecosystem Services21(Part B), 218–229.

Cuerrier A, Turner NJ, Gomes TC, Garibaldi A, Downing A (2015) Cultural Keystone Places: Conservation and Restoration in Cultural Landscapes. Journal of Ethnobiology 35:427-448

Garibaldi A, Turner N (2004) Cultural Keystone Species: Implications for Ecological Conservation and Restoration. Ecology and Society 9

Hirons, M., Comberti, C., & Dunford, R. (2016). Valuing Cultural Ecosystem Services. Annual Review of Environment and Resources41(1), 545–574.

lhammar, S. S., & Pedersen, E. (2017). Recreational cultural ecosystem services: How do people describe the value? Ecosystem Services26(Part A), 1–9.

Kenter, J. O. (2016). Integrating deliberative monetary valuation, systems modelling and participatory mapping to assess shared values of ecosystem services. Ecosystem Services21(Part B), 291–307.

Lepofsky D, Armstrong CG, Greening S, Jackley J, Carpenter J, Guernsey B, Mathews D, Turner NJ (2017) Historical Ecology of Cultural Keystone Places of the Northwest Coast. American Anthropologist 119:448-463.

Pascua, P. A., McMillen, H., Ticktin, T., Vaughan, M., & Winter, K. B. (2017). Beyond services: A process and framework to incorporate cultural, genealogical, place-based, and indigenous relationships in ecosystem service assessments. Ecosystem Services26(Part B), 465–475.

Rasmussen, Laura Vang, Ole Mertz, Andreas Christensen, Finn Danielsen, Neil Dawson, and Pheang Xaydongvanh. 2016. “A Combination of Methods Needed to Assess the Actual Use of Provisioning Ecosystem Services .” Ecosystem Services17 (C). Elsevier: 75–86. doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.11.005.

Trainor, Sarah. 2006. “Realms of Value: Conflicting Natural Resource Values and Incommensurability.” Environmental Values 15(1):3-29.

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