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Differences in cultural context as an educational tool understanding differences in values of Ecosystem Services

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Author list: van den Brink, Paul
Publication year: 2018

Abstract
Ecosystem services differ depending on how they are valued within a society. For instance, the value for recreational sites varies depending on the number of people that use them. People also give different values to different services depending on their background, for instance for aesthetic and ethical values.

Since 2016 Mid Sweden University (Sweden) and VIVES (Belgium) has an educational cooperation. We use the cultural differences between Belgium and Sweden as an educational tool. In the exchange program, the students have one field trip in Sweden and one field trip in Belgium. In Sweden one sparsely populated area is used in the Swedish archipelago and in Belgium a semi natural area, a constructed lake,. We also compare residential areas in Stockholm and in Ypres.

Some findings so far:

Cultural services are important in semi natural areas in Belgium. The Swedish students become aware of the popularity for semi natural land for recreational use in Belgium. In the area of the lake “Eau d” Heure the difference is well expressed. The lake, first constructed to provide secured water delivery to the waterways for transportation, is now a popular recreational area. Lakes of the same size in Sweden could not reach those recreational values.

Even if the access in Sweden to more natural habitats is possible, nature first is withdrawn, and then reconstructed to get a value in residential areas instead of using already existing natural habitats.

The Swedish archipelago, some inhabited only by single families are exotic to Belgian students. No light pollution and the silence are a new experience. At the same time, inhabitants at these islands tries their best to find a way of living on tourism. Not even forestry are economical reasonable.

By the exchange program, we believe that we widen the mindsets of both groups of students and their understanding of ecosystem services in different cultural contexts.


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