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E&S Home > Vol. 19, Iss. 3 > Art. 55 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
The forest has a story: cultural ecosystem services in Kona, Hawai‘i

Rachelle K Gould, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University; Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University
Nicole M Ardoin, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; Graduate School of Education, Stanford University
Ulalia Woodside, Land Assets Division, Kamehameha Schools
Terre Satterfield, Institute for Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
Neil Hannahs, Land Assets Division, Kamehameha Schools
Gretchen C Daily, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University; Department of Biology, Stanford University; Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Stockholm Resilience Centre, University of Stockholm


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Understanding cultural dimensions of human/environment relationships is now widely seen as key to effective management, yet characterizing these dimensions remains a challenge. We report on an approach for considering the nonmaterial values associated with ecosystems, i.e., cultural ecosystem services. We applied the approach in Kona, Hawai‘i, using 30 semistructured interviews and 205 in-person surveys, striving to balance pragmatism and depth. We found spirituality, heritage, and identity-related values to be particularly salient, with expression of some of these values varying among respondents by ethnicity and duration of residence in Hawai‘i. Although people of various backgrounds reported strong spirituality and heritage-related values, Native Hawaiians rated heritage connections as deeper, and lifetime residents portrayed ecosystem-identity connections as more integral to their well-being than did people from other backgrounds. The approach also proved useful in identifying concerns not addressed in survey and interview prompts, including postcolonial issues, access to ecosystems, and relationships between people of different ethnic backgrounds. Although understanding these nonmaterial dimensions of human-ecosystem relationships can be complex, emerging techniques eliciting qualitative and quantitative data provide feasible ways of deepening that understanding.

Key words

environmental decision making; heritage; identity; mixed methods; semistructured interviews; spirituality; surveys; values

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087