Cultivating deep care: Integrating landscape ecological research into the cultural dimension of ecosystem services

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Landscape ecological research about the cultural dimension of ecosystem services remains less developed as compared to other aspects of ecosystem services about landscapes. In this article, the cultural dimension of ecosystem services is defined as the psychological, cultural, and social relationships that influence people's connections to biodiversity and landscapes as well as to what benefits they consider useful and relevant. Yet to meet the challenge of understanding sustainability in different landscapes, such as urban ones, research about ecosystem services in landscape ecology will need to shift its emphasis towards the scale of people's experience of landscapes. As a means to improve this situation, cultivating deep care is proposed as a key concept to better integrate the cultural dimension of ecosystem services into landscape ecological research about urban landscapes. Cultivating deep care is defined as the adaptive process for deepening people's affinity of urban nature including enhancing people's appreciation, awareness, and actions for biodiversity, landscapes, and their own well-being that will ultimately benefit ecosystem services. The heart of this article is a conceptual framework that begins to outline the scope and boundaries of cultivating deep care as a key concept and connects it to its intellectual context that includes research such as landscape sustainability, landscape perception, resilience science, and ecosystem services. An important assumption is that cultivating deep care is a "work in progress," which will grow and evolve over time as new knowledge is contributed to it. In the conceptual framework, several principles explore and flesh important ideas and relationships about cultivating deep care as a key concept. Each principle is organized around three parts: (1) a brief description; (2) relevance to landscape ecological research; and (3) recommended research topics. Using these principles, I suggest potential avenues to advance landscape ecological research about biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1038
Number of pages14
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments I want to thank all of the reviewers who provided constructive feedback on draft of this manuscript. In addition, I am grateful for the financial support for these activities that was provided by the Institute on the Environment, College of Design, and Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota.


  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem services
  • Human well-being
  • Landscape perception
  • Landscape sustainability
  • Urban landscapes


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