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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Citizen perceptions and values associated with ecosystem services from European grassland landscapes

Tindale, Sophie; Vicario-Modrono, Victoria; Gallardo-Cobos, Rosa; Hunter, Erik; Miskolci, Simona; Price, Paul Newell; Sanchez-Zamora, Pedro; Sonnevelt, Martijn; Ojo, Mercy; McInnes, Kirsty; Frewer, Lynn J.


European permanent grasslands are multifunctional landscapes that deliver an important mix of ecosystem services. The effectiveness of future policies linked to landscape and agricultural practices requires consideration of citizen perceptions of, and priorities for, benefits (e.g. ecosystem services) demanded from permanent grasslands. This exploratory research aimed to expand understanding of citizens' perceptions and socio-cultural valuation of grassland landscapes, ecosystem service provision and management across Europe in order to inform future research. Fifteen focus groups with residents of rural areas, urban areas, and young adults from rural areas (aged 18-26) (N = 104), were conducted across five European countries (Spain, Sweden, UK, Switzerland and the Czech Republic) between 2020 and 2021. Overall, participants perceived grassland landscapes positively, describing connection to the landscape through experience, emotions, environmental characteristics, activity, access, and cultural identity. Prioritisation of ecosystem services from grassland varied between countries, influenced by grassland system diversity, and complex socio-cultural and socio-economic differences. Rural dwellers, including rural youth, perceived more benefits from grasslands than urban dwellers. Perceptions of problems were related to reduction, degradation and abandonment of grassland, and varied between urban and rural dwellers. Consumer education about the value of grasslands was perceived as vital in ensuring sustainable management and use of these landscapes. Citizens across different countries shared farming ideals relating to farming for biodiversity. These findings can help ensure that policies surrounding landscape and agricultural practices align with societal perspectives and priorities to effectively deliver multifunctional, valued, sustainable grassland systems.


Permanent grassland; Rural landscape; Citizen perception; Ecosystem services; Socio-cultural values

Published in

Land Use Policy
2023, Volume: 127, article number: 106574

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