OpenNESS case study: Mapping Cultural Ecosystem Services in Essex

Project description: 

Essex is a lowland rural county dominated by farmland. The coastline is popular for recreation and provides important areas for wildlife. The proximity to London is driving new housing development which is causing loss of green space, especially in and around the city of Chelmsford. This project is one of OpenNESS’ (Operationalisation of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services) 27 global case study sites. The case study focuses on cultural ecosystem services, using participatory stakeholder workshops and a mobile exhibition to map five different cultural services: recreation, aesthetic value, education, habitat for wildlife, and ‘sense of place’. Flickr photos were also analysed to map cultural ecosystem services. The aim of the case study was to demonstrate the cultural value of ecosystems, as part of Essex County Council’s Natural Capital Asset Check. Maps highlighted which areas are important for providing health and wellbeing benefits and can help to optimise the planning of new development in a way that protects valuable areas and enhances locations where services are lacking.

Organisations involved: 

Environmental Change Institute, Essex County Council, Essex residents and stakeholders

Scale of project: 
Total area covered by project: 
3670 (sq. km)
Special purposes of project: 
Map social/cultural values

Which ecosystem services were focused on?: 

  • Aesthetic/inspiration
  • Sense of place/heritage
  • Education
  • Recreation/tourism
Habitats mapped for ecosystem services: 
Coastal margins
Enclosed farmland
Freshwater, wetlands and floodplains
Semi-natural grasslands
Contact name: 
Pam Berry
Contact job title: 
Organiser and tool devloper
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Oxford University Centre for the Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY
(0)1865 275882