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Evaluation of the relationship between ornamental plants – based ecosystem services and human wellbeing: A case study from Lefke Region of North Cyprus

Ciftcioglu, Gulay Cetinkaya, Ebedi, Sinem, Abak, Kazim
Ecological indicators 2019 v.102 pp. 278-288
aesthetics, case studies, ecosystem services, ecosystems, environmental indicators, habitats, home gardens, interviews, ornamental plants, pets, questionnaires, social welfare, surveys, Cyprus
Ornamental plants and relevant horticulture practices provide essential environmental, economic, social, and aesthetic benefits for human wellbeing. However, the contribution of ornamental plants-based ecosystem services (ESs) to human wellbeing (HWB) has not yet been explored in detail. This study was carried out with the aim of contributing to this knowledge gap. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between ornamental plants based–ESs and HWB in a home garden context in Lefke Region of North Cyprus. The objectives of the study were (i) to identify the ornamental plant species cultivated in the home gardens, (ii) to evaluate the major ornamental plants-based ESs, (iii) to assess the contributions of the relevant ESs to the HWB, and (iv) to examine the interrelationship between the different categories of ESs and HWB. The conceptual framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and a social preference valuation approach were adopted to assess the ornamental plants-based ESs, their contributions to the components of HWB, and interrelations amongst them. A number of qualitative (e.g. semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (e.g. a questionnaire) research tools were employed to collect the relevant data. The quantitative data obtained from 170 residents were evaluated using a 0–5 Likert Scale. The field surveys revealed that the composition of ornamental plants in the home gardens consists of 233 plant species. Evaluation of the quantitative data showed that the average relative value of the ornamental plants-based ESs varies between the categories of habitat-based ESs (4,08 points) and regulating ESs (3,00 points). This finding indicates the significant role of ornamental plants for ‘habitat formation’ and ‘wildlife attraction’. The most tagged components were ‘habitats for pets’ and ‘aesthetic quality’. The ornamental plants-based ESs particularly contribute to the two components of HWB: ‘security’ (4,51 points) and ‘contact with nature’ (4,37 points). The relationship between the ESs and HWB was quantified on a 1–5 Likert scale. A high degree of correlation was found between the categories of ‘provisioning services’ and ‘basic material for a good life’ and also between the categories of ‘cultural services’ and ‘development of good social relations’ with a 4,96 points. The lowest degree of correlation was estimated to be between the categories of ‘regulating services’ and ‘development good social relations’ with a 1,01 points. The results of this study may contribute to a better understanding of the complex relationship between the ornamental plants-based ESs and HWB in Lefke Region and elsewhere.