Problem: The concept of ecosystem services (ES) is a novel and potentially powerful framework for integrating greater awareness and valuation of the multifaceted benefits of nature into land use planning, where often only a limited number of benefits are considered, much less valued. Even though cultural ecosystem services (CES) are reputed to be among the most important ES of urban areas (Bolund & Hunhammar, 1999; Gómez-Baggethun & Barton, 2013), they are not broadly considered in planning and their assessment lags behind that of other ES groups in scientific research. One reason for their lack of consideration is that their assessment requires inclusion of socio-cultural approaches, while ES assessments thus far have primarily come from fields such as ecological economics, landscape ecology and natural resource management, where there is a strong bias towards biophysical and economic assessment. Public Participatory GIS (PPGIS) is a new approach to socio-cultural valuation of ES, and has demonstrated much potential for eliciting perceived ES, particularly the elusive and intangible CES (Fagerholm, Käyhkö, Ndumbaro, & Khamis, 2012; Plieninger, Dijks, Oteros-Rozas, & Bieling, 2013; van Riper, Kyle, Sutton, Barnes, & Sherrouse, 2012). PPGIS also has the potential to merge social and biophysical ES valuation and to estimate ES demand among different user groups (Sherrouse, Clement, & Semmens, 2011), which is often acknowledged as a major gap and challenge in ES research. Thus far, the few PPGIS studies assessing CES have taken place in rural areas, leaving its potential for application in urban areas untested. This paper seeks to test softGIS as a means to extract socio-cultural values and uses of urban green spaces for CES assessment in the case study city of Berlin. Research questions relate to how CES are spatially distributed in the city in terms of how they are bundled and related to different land covers, as well as how the softGIS platform used is rated in terms of usability by different groups of participants.

Methods: Data collection incorporates PPGIS methods through the online survey tool softGIS (Rantanen & Kahila, 2009), developed in 2005 by a Finnish research group. The tool combines survey questions with a Google Maps API in a user-friendly way that allows direct geo-referencing of survey data, representing a large advantage compared to time-intensive post-digitization efforts required by paper map-based PPGIS approaches. Questions center on where in the city participants experience each cultural service (n=6-8) and what activities they pursue in these spots. Analysis will make use of or adapt several statistical analyses to determine correlations between pairs of CES (Spearman’s rank correlation), to examine the relationship between socio-demographic characteristics and services (multiple correspondence analysis), to identify CES densities and bundles (kernel density analysis and principle components analysis, respectively), and to determine relationships between land cover classes and CES (chi square tests).

Expected results: Results should highlight where bundles of CES are found within the city and what their nature is in terms of land cover classes where they are situated and activities pursued for different socio-demographic groups.

Implications: The survey will be the first of its kind and should indicate whether PPGIS is an appropriate social valuation tool to assess CES in an urban environment. The tool may be used to underlie land use policy and planning that supports well-being and a higher quality of life.