ASSESSING CULTURAL ECOSYSTEM SERVICES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AT THE GARDEN OF NINFA (ITALY)
Keywords:Natural Capital, Ecosystem Services, Outdoor recreation, Natura 2000 site.
Green areas provide Cultural Ecosystem Services (CESs), that is, the ecosystem outputs that enable a range of experiential and intellectual activities. These include health promotion, recreation, enjoyment of the cultural heritage, and aesthetic experiences. The demand for CESs has grown during the first half of 2020, when most of the EU Member States had to face a stringent lockdown to contain the spread of the Covid-19, and people have undergone considerable psychophysical distress. In this framework, the Garden of Ninfa, one of the most visited Gardens of Italy, with its natural, historical, and architectural beauties delivers precious CESs, which have however been poorly studied. In this research, through a survey, we investigated the CESs delivered by the Garden of Ninfa in the immediate post-lockdown period, providing at the same time a monetary evaluation. The results show that people mostly visit the Garden of Ninfa for the aesthetic experience, followed by the resonance in terms of culture or heritage and health promotion; the combination of water bodies and fauna is highly effective in delivering CESs. The monetary evaluation, ranging between 1.0 and 2.7 Million EUR per year, may stimulate the replication of similar initiatives, especially in highly altered areas. The safety measures put in place by the governance of the Garden of Ninfa have safeguarded the tour experience from the Covid-19 fear of infection.
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