Mountain regions in the vicinity of cities and urban agglomerations

We had an opening talk by Courtney Flint who presented results from a student project on applying a mixed-method approach to assess vulnerability, well-being and values in the Wasatch region in Utah. Stakeholder interviews revealed healing, spiritual, recreational, experiencing nature, visual beauty as important values of the mountain region. Key concerns were privatization of land, demographic changes, transportation, education, policy and climate change. The participatory approach was thought to “amplify the ordinary voice” and offered an exploratory research opportunity for further application of different methods.

The next two contributions showed the valuation of ecosystem services in mountain regions in the vicinity of urban agglomerations, one applying non-monetary valuation approaches and the other applying a monetary valuation approach. Katja Schmidt presented survey results of a study on non-monetary values of ecosystem services in two case study areas – an upland hill range just south of Edinburgh and four urban green spaces within the City of Edinburgh. Whereas cultural ecosystem services and habitat/biodiversity were valued very highly in both sample areas, landscape preferences were focused more on leisure-targeted scenarios in urban green spaces and nature-enhancing scenarios in the mountain region. Andrea Ryffel likewise compared demand for ecosystem services in two mountain regions, an urbanized and a remote valley. Results of the choice experiment show that people in the urbanized setting had strong negative preferences against settlement growth and were open towards future land-use changes, whereas residents in the remote area liked to stay with the status quo. In both regions, residents identify strongly with their landscape.

The next two talks presented land use changes in mountain areas. Tor Arnesen showed a conceptual approach to describe how the reorganization of households results in “urban recreational sprawl” and emphasized the increasing development of 2nd houses outside of Oslo. Robert Steiger presented results of stakeholder interviews highlighting the change in tourism in the Bavarian Alps in the vicinity of Munich. Key challenges are financial sustainability of tourism businesses, succession plans, traffic and public transport to Munich, migration of youth, strong alpine competitors, and the suspected change from tourism to daytrip destinations.

Sandra Lavorel presented a transdisciplinary approach for the analysis and projection of ecosystem services in the Grenoble area. Aim of the research was to integrate the ecosystem services perspective into the development of future land management trajectories and to enhance the functional understanding of decision makers of ecosystem supply and land management.

The last talk of the session by Derek Christie explored transport mode behavior in twelve mountain municipalities in Switzerland. He found that the use of cars and walking did not differ significantly between urban and mountain areas. In contrast, people in mountain regions used public transport less than in urban areas.

In summary, the talks revealed high value for cultural ecosystem services across different case studies in mountain regions in the vicinity of urban agglomerations. Impact of land use change was highlighted, with emphasis on the development of second houses and tourism. Main challenges result from demographic change, climate change, life style change and change in touristic behavior.



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