Recognize and Prioritize Cultural Ecosystem Services Based on Users' Perceptions in Urban Green Spaces (Case Study of Tehran Urban Parks)

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Architecture, Faculty of Arts, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran



In the late twentieth century, the importance of the role of nature in human life was considered with a new approach. To improve the quality of human life and the role of socio-cultural dimensions, Ecosystem Services performance were studied. The term "Cultural Ecosystem Services" (CES) describes the intangible services of the nature. These benefits include the meanings that people receive from green spaces. Understanding these benefits will improve well-being. The evaluation of CES, in addition to the perception of the local community, should be done on the basis of a specific green space, and the characteristics of the site are effective in shaping Cultural Services (CS). The urban parks provide a context for the connection between man and nature. While the scope of studies on CS is expanding globally, in Iran, the concept of CES in urban green spaces has not yet been identified. Therefore, the issue of the present study is the evaluation and identification of CS in the urban parks, based on public perception. Taleghani, Mellat, Ab-o-Atash and Bagh-e-Irani parks in Tehran, which have appropriate management criteria, are studied purposefully. Then the CS are prioritized based on people's participation. The results of this research can pave the way for future studies of green space and its CS.


First, the theoretical foundations of the research were prepared based on the study of international researches, in order to develop a framework for evaluating CS then based on that, the researcher-made questionnaire was prepared to determine people's perception of CS by surveying. The research method was descriptive-analytical and the statistical population included the users of the mentioned parks in Tehran. The sample size was calculated based on the number of items, 400 people. The questionnaires were provided to participants online and collected. Exploratory Factor Analysis was used to identify CS factors, Cronbach's alpha test was used to examine the internal consistency of items in each factor, and Friedman test was used to rank the factors related to CS in SPSS.

Results and discussion

In the present study, the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test confirmed the adequacy of the sample size (KMO = 0/87) and the Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity (2x 3157/80, df = 378, p = 0/001). Also, the principal component analysis method with varimax rotation showed that 7 factors in total explained 75.5% of the total variance of the items. Values of cultural heritage, spirituality, awareness, recreation, social relations, sense of place and inspiration, formed the factors of CS of the parks. Incidentally, approved items were identified in each of the factors. In relation to the internal consistency of the questions of each factor, the results of Cronbach's alpha test showed that the reliability coefficient of cultural heritage factors: 0/85; spiritual: 0/95; awareness: 0/87; fun: 80/0; social: 90/0; place sense: 0/90; inspirations: 0/84 and total questionnaire: 0/93, which indicates the internal consistency suitable for each factor questions. However, the question-by-question method for reviewing internal consistency did not increase the alpha coefficient. According to Friedman test, there was a significant difference between the rankings of factors related to CS. Wilcoxon test was used to compare two rankings of factors that the results showed between the recreational factor and all other factors (cultural heritage, social relations, awareness, spiritual, inspiration, and sense of place); Social factor and factors of awareness, spirituality, inspiration, and sense of place; Cultural heritage factor and factors of awareness, spirituality, inspiration; The factor of awareness and spiritual and the sense of place factors; Spiritual factor and inspiration; Inspiration and sense of place were significantly different (ps <0/05), but no significant difference was observed between the mean rank of other factors (ps <0/05). In this way, the characteristics, sub-characteristics and prioritization of CS were determined based on the participatory perception of the people. According to people's priorities, recreational values, social relations and cultural heritage are the most important, while the values of inspiration and sense of place are poorly perceived.


The results of Exploratory Factor Analysis showed that the classification of CS agents is almost similar to international reports. 4 items were removed from a total of 33 items. The content of the item in each of the factors reflects the concept of each category of CS. People in recreational services prefer active recreation, and solitude is not in the concepts of inspiration, which shows the importance of the social dimension of parks. The spiritual values of green space to some extent include monotheistic concepts. The results also showed the prioritization of CS based on public perception, considering both objective and subjective dimensions for the CS, objectively the social and recreational values of the park are perceived by the users and they consider the park as a suitable place to spend their leisure time. But the park's CS are not well perceived mentally. The spiritual values, inspirations and sense of place that lead to the emotional connection of people with the nature and create a kind of attachment, are very insignificant in people's perceptions. The findings of the study raise concerns about the meaningful relationship between people and nature. It seems that the reason for the weak mental connection of users with the park should be investigated in the design of the parks. In urban green spaces, recreational and social activities should be planned in the appropriate context of the natural. The present study has taken the first steps towards promoting a meaningful relationship between people and urban green space. Future research is needed to examine the impact of the park design on the formation of CS so that appropriate design can be used to enhance the park's CS. Certainly, promoting people's perceptions of the intangible benefits of the green spaces will be effective in improving the quality of life.


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