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Trade-offs between the natural environment and recreational infrastructure: A case study about peatlands under different management scenarios

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark WhittinghamORCiD, Dr Dylan Young, Professor Mark Reed



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 The AuthorsThe importance of peatlands for conservation and provision of public services has been well evidenced in the last years, especially in relation to their contribution to the net zero carbon emission agenda. However, little is known about the importance of recreation relative to conservation and their trade-offs. In this paper we address this knowledge gap by exploring the trade-offs between natural properties of peatlands and recreational infrastructures for different categories of recreationists (walkers, cyclists, anglers, and birdwatchers) of an open heather moors and peatlands landscape. We do so building on a series of management scenarios formulated through participatory methods and applying choice experiment related to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO Global Geopark in the UK. Results show a high degree of heterogeneity in landscape preferences across different user groups. Recreationists had a higher appreciation for semi-natural habitats compared to pristine or restored peatland (e.g., land rewetting). Walkers and cyclists were more sensitive to changes in the availability of recreational facilities than to environmental quality, while anglers’ and birdwatchers’ preferences were more aligned with values promoted by restoration policies. Overall, our results point to a potential value conflict between benefits generated by conservation and the benefits valued most by some groups of recreationists. To maximise success conflicts like the one revealed here need to be considered in strategies that provide a central role for peatlands in net zero climate mitigation strategies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Martino S, Kenter JO, Albers N, Whittingham MJ, Young DM, Pearce-Higgins JW, Martin-Ortega J, Glenk K, Reed MS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Land Use Policy

Year: 2022

Volume: 123

Print publication date: 01/12/2022

Online publication date: 01/11/2022

Acceptance date: 15/10/2022

Date deposited: 15/11/2022

ISSN (electronic): 0264-8377

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106401


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