Resilient Geographies: An Atlas of Cultural Ecosystem Services in the Land of Spirit Waters.

Van, Brian, Urban and Environmental Planning - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Van, Brian, Architecture Graduate, University of Virginia

This thesis explores the relationship between and the impact of cultural ecosystem services on resilience planning by examining public spaces in San Antonio, Texas. Existing studies have recognized that evaluating cultural ecosystem services is challenging, but continued research as well as the development and testing of new methods are necessary to enhance our understanding. To support this aim, this thesis utilized participant observation and an inductive research approach to examine how cultural ecosystem services – the intangible benefits that communities gain from their natural environments – influence levels of social interaction and social cohesion. Three public urban green spaces in San Antonio were selected for observation because they function as spaces for cultural engagement and social resilience in the city. The findings of this study indicate that cultural ecosystem services are invaluable to fostering social cohesion and greater levels of social interaction in public spaces. Further, mapping observations of use and behavior from each of the three selected public green spaces coupled with historical research reveal the extent to which planning, and design interventions can influence cultural ecosystem services, the number of people engaging with them, and the who those people are in a general sense. Although it was not possible for this thesis, future studies should employ post-observation interviews with individuals making use of public green spaces to enrich and contextualize the observational data.

MUEP (Master of Urban and Environmental Planning)
cultural ecosystem services, San Antonio, public urban green spaces, community
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