Translating policy to place: exploring cultural ecosystem services in areas of Green Belt through participatory mapping

Matthew G. Kirby*, Alister J. Scott, Claire L. Walsh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Green Belts are longstanding planning designations, which primarily seek to prevent urban sprawl. Importantly, they form the open spaces close to where most people live, but we lack clarity over how Green Belts are used and valued by publics, and the cultural ecosystem services they provide. To address this policy and research gap, a public participatory mapping survey was conducted on the North-East England Green Belt, with 779 respondents plotting 2388 points. The results show for the first time that in addition to being a planning policy zone, Green Belts are important, and widely used open spaces for “everyday nature”, providing several cultural ecosystem services including recreation, connection with nature, sense of place and aesthetic value. Several factors were found to influence the supply of cultural ecosystem services in Green Belts, including, proximity to urban areas, woodland land cover and access designations. Whereas most demand pressures on Green Belts were on public rights-of-way, nature designations and deciduous woodlands. Pervasive barriers inhibiting Green Belt’s full potential were identified including management issues, concerns over personal safety and lack of access. We argue that opportunities to further enhance the cultural ecosystem services provided Green Belts and peri-urban landscapes more broadly, not only come from planning policies themselves, but from the design and delivery of approaches integrating urban, rural and land-use policy silos. The findings have wider implications for policy including potential conflict with future development, and opportunities for greater access to greenspace.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2276752
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalEcosystems and People
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

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