Understanding the dynamics and factors affecting cultural ecosystem services during urbanization through spatial pattern analysis and a mixed-methods approach

Zhifang Wang, Min Xu, Haowen Lin, Salman Qureshi, Ankang Cao, Yujing Ma

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Cultivating a deeper understanding of the response mechanism of cultural ecosystem services to urbanization is increasingly recognized as a critical component of sustainable governance and land-use decision making. However, except for a range of studies exploring changes in ecosystem services during urbanization that address cultural ecosystem services as merely one service type, few investigations reveal the changing mechanism of cultural ecosystem services in rapid urbanization. To fill this knowledge gap, this study selected Changyang Township, Fangshan District, Beijing as a case to understand the influence of intense urbanization on changes in cultural ecosystem services in the context of Chinese cities. Cultural ecosystem services were classified and mapped based upon a systematic and critical review of previous literature, field surveys, and kernel density analysis. The influence of urbanization on cultural ecosystem services’ changes was examined through casual loop diagrams. Urbanization was found to contribute positively to cultural ecosystem services in general, although a reconstruction process revealed that these were initially diminished and then revamped during China’s urbanization. The primary development of the land was the key factor contributing to the process by which conventional cultural ecosystem services deteriorated during urbanization, while spatial planning and design facilitated the reconstructions of cultural ecosystem services across larger core areas. Meanwhile, cultural ecosystem services were experienced differently by residents in areas with varied urbanization intensities. This study provides an in-depth analysis and suggestions for primary land development in the Chinese context to achieve sustainable urbanization concerning cultural ecosystem services. In addition, this study enriches the cultural ecosystem services literature from a dynamic lens while highlighting the complexity of recreation as both an experience and a component of cultural ecosystem services.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123422
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date4 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2021


  • Urban ecology
  • Landscape perception
  • Environmental justice
  • Cognitive mapping
  • Social-ecological system
  • Urban green spaces


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