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Public Participation GIS: A Method for Identifying Ecosystem Services

Brown, Greg, Montag, Jessica M., Lyon, Katie
Society & natural resources 2012 v.25 no.7 pp. 633-651
ecosystem services, environmental policy, expert opinion, geographic information systems, land cover, land use, Colorado
This study evaluated the use of an Internet-based public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) to identify ecosystem services in Grand County, Colorado. Specific research objectives were to examine the distribution of ecosystem services, identify the characteristics of participants in the study, explore potential relationships between ecosystem services and land use and land cover (LULC) classifications, and assess the methodological strengths and weakness of the PPGIS approach for identifying ecosystem services. Key findings include: (1) Cultural ecosystem service opportunities were easiest to identify while supporting and regulatory services most challenging, (2) participants were highly educated, knowledgeable about nature and science, and have a strong connection to the outdoors, (3) some LULC classifications were logically and spatially associated with ecosystem services, and (4) despite limitations, the PPGIS method demonstrates potential for identifying ecosystem services to augment expert judgment and to inform public or environmental policy decisions regarding land use trade-offs.