Journal article
Spatial units and scales for cultural ecosystem services: a comparison illustrated by cultural heritage and entertainment services in Scotland

Publication Details
Aalders, I.; Stanik, N.
Publication year:
Landscape Ecology
Pages range:
Volume number:
Issue number:



The diverse use of spatial units and scales in cultural ecosystem service (CES) assessments hinders the development of systematic approaches and the comparability of CES studies conducted in different environmental contexts.


This paper compares three commonly applied spatial units (land cover, raster, landscape units) in CES assessments for their ability to inform us about the spatial context of CES and to provide evidence-based arguments for their application at national and regional scales.


Spatially explicit indicators for cultural heritage and entertainment services in Scotland are assessed using the three spatial units. Their influence on the indicator values is compared with respect to spatial distribution and configuration. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test and a linear model evaluate the spatial error created by the calculation between units.


For both indicators the spatial units yield similar results at both scales. Land cover and raster units provide more detail in the spatial distribution pattern at regional scale. In the cultural heritage analysis, the identified spatial error shows a slight overestimation by land cover and an underestimation by raster units, which can be linked to extent and shape differences of these units.


At national scale, all spatial units show consistent applicability in CES assessments, but land cover and raster units have strengths at regional scale. Considering both findings of this study and arguments from theory, CES assessments would benefit from the use of landscape units, which reflect socio-ecological systems and are, therefore, close to the conceptual background and spatial context of CES.

Last updated on 2019-07-08 at 16:24