Mapping landscape potential for outdoor recreation using different archetypical recreation user groups in the European Union

Franziska Komossa*, Emma H. van der Zanden, Catharina J.E. Schulp, Peter H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

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Engagement with the natural environment and public enjoyment of access to farmland and woodland often takes the form of outdoor recreation. Numerous studies on landscape preferences of outdoor recreation have focused on individual characteristics and attitudes of recreation users. Although the importance of differences in user groups has been acknowledged, a clear distinction of archetypical user groups has not yet been made. This study presents spatial maps of landscapes’ outdoor recreation potential throughout the EU based on the different landscape preferences of five archetypical outdoor recreation user groups. The resulting maps are based on spatial indicators for landscape characteristics identified through a literature review of landscape preferences and an expert workshop regarding the relative importance of those preferences. We find overlapping patterns of outdoor recreation potential for all user groups, as a result of similar preferences for elevation, cultural heritage and presence of specific flora and fauna. Areas with high recreation potential for multiple user groups are dominated by forest or mosaic land use and often concentrated in mountainous areas, showing the areas’ multifunctional potential. The developed maps provide a synthesis of available information and data on the differential preferences and patterns for outdoor recreation in the EU. The differentiation of user groups enables stakeholders at different levels to develop sustainable landscape management strategies targeted at the demand for and supply of outdoor recreation opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalEcological Indicators
Early online date19 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • European Union
  • Landscape preferences
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Public Goods


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