There is little information concerning how people in the Global South perceive the benefits and costs associated with urban green areas. There is even less information on how governance influences the way people value these highly complex socio-ecological systems. We used semi-structured surveys, statistical analyses, and econometrics to explore the perceptions of users regarding governance and the benefits and costs, or Ecosystem Services (ES) and Ecosystem Disservices (ED), provided by Neotropical green areas and their willingness to invest, or not, for their conservation. The study area was the El Salitre sub-watershed in Bogota, Colombia, and 10 different sites representative of its wetlands, parks, green areas, and socioeconomic contexts. Using a context-specific approach and methods, we identified the most important benefits and costs of green areas and the influence of governance on how people valued these. Our modelling shows that air quality and biodiversity were highly important benefits, while water regulation was the least important; despite the sub-watershed’s acute problems with stormwater runoff. In terms of costs, the feeling of insecurity due to crime was related to poor levels of maintenance and infrastructure in the studied green areas. Perceived transparency, corruption, and performance of government institutions influenced people’s Unwillingness to Invest (UTI) in green space conservation. Results show that socioeconomic backgrounds, government performance, and environmental education will play a role in the value or importance people place on the benefits, costs, and UTI in conservation efforts in urban green areas. Similarly, care is warranted when directly applying frameworks and typologies developed in high income countries (i.e., ES) to the unique realities of cities in the Global South. Accordingly, alternative frameworks such as Nature’s Contributions to People is promising.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Nature and Landscape Conservation