Assessment of ecosystem services as an alternative for spatial planning of rural areas in Switzerland
Spatial planning is a key instrument for decision-making to coordinate human activities and to minimize their negative impacts on the natural and land systems. In Switzerland, it is a particularly important subject from its political, geographical, economic and cultural features. A large share of the economy depends on the services provided by the environment and the landscape, as shown as by the importance of tourism or agriculture. The concept of ecosystem services (ES) opens a new perspective for spatial planning. It is essential to manage them in a way that maintains their supplies. We argue that the ES concept is intrinsically transdisciplinary, which helps foster a co-constructed, legitimate understanding of complex issues. We also postulate that building a temporally informed framework is crucial to understand the spatio-temporal dynamics for individual services and their associations. In Switzerland, rural areas are the largest pool of ecosystem services, where most external flows occur towards urban areas, but they also suffer from a high level of human impact. The aim of this research is to understand the role of ecosystem services in spatial planning of rural areas in Switzerland.
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Funding: cantons of Western Switzerland