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Patriotism, place, and provisioning: assessing cultural ecosystem services through longitudinal and historical studies in Vietnam

Pamela McElwee, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, New Jersey
Hương Vũ, Central Institute for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, Vietnam National University
Giang Võ , Central Institute for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, Vietnam National University
Dianne Lê, Harvard University


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Cultural ecosystem services (CES) provide multiple benefits to people, including experiences, identities, and capabilities through both material and non-material means. There have been few studies of CES in Vietnam, despite a number of historical, religious, cultural, and customary traditions that have long influenced landscape values and management. We aim to identify a range of CES important to respondents in a study site in north-central Vietnam by providing a unique longitudinal view. Over a two-decade period, different ecosystem benefits have been obtained by local households, some of which have been influenced by cultural factors or could be considered CES. These have included material ecosystem services, including agricultural production, local medicinal plants, and culturally relevant craft materials. There are also non-material CES of interest, including those related to sense of place and national identities, spiritual and religious practices, and recreational and aesthetic benefits. However, over time there has been diminishing importance of some material resources as landscapes have changed from a mix of agricultural lands and natural forests to plantation forestry, and social impacts have resulted from increased labor migration, which has diminished sense of place among younger generations. Assessing these changes allows us to explore how CES are not static or pre-given but shift over time and within different contexts.

Key words

Asia; cultural ecosystem services; identity; rural development; sense of place

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087