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Frederico Santarém, Jarkko Saarinen, José Carlos Brito, Assessment and prioritization of cultural ecosystem services in the Sahara-Sahelian region, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 777, 2021, 146053, ISSN 0048-9697,

Assessment and prioritization of cultural ecosystem services in the Sahara-Sahelian region

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Author: Santarém, Frederico1,2; Saarinen, Jarkko3,4; Brito, José Carlos1,2
Organizations: 1CIBIO/InBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do Porto, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
2Departamento de Biologia da Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Rua Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland
4School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-03-02


Desert environments remain largely neglected by the society and their potential to provide benefits to people remain understudied. Hotspots of cultural ecosystem services have been identified in some deserts; yet, knowing which countries need to strengthen efforts to satisfy people’s demand for those services is timely needed. Here, we show the performance of countries within the Earth’s largest warm region — the Sahara-Sahel — in managing cultural ecosystem services. Using the most-advanced decision-support tools and updated databases on biodiversity features and constrains to ecosystem services and on socioeconomic indicators, we identified national priorities for cultural services management. We also identified countries that are missing opportunities for local sustainable development. About 34% of Sahara-Sahel is prioritized for cultural ecosystem services, particularly in the main mountains and waterbodies of the region and along the Western and Eastern coastal limits. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia are performing better in managing their cultural services given the availability of such services in their territories. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, and South Sudan need to urgently improve their ease of mobility, governance, safety, socioeconomic and health systems to foster ecosystem services demand. Cameroon, Eritrea, and Senegal are receiving far less tourists than what their ecosystems can handle and need to improve their local conditions for better marketing international tourists able to economically contribute to sustainable development through ecotourism programs. The approach developed here serves as a framework for conserving the last world wild ecosystems and is replicable to other contexts where regional planning for ecosystem management is compulsory.

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Series: Science of the total environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
ISSN-E: 1879-1026
ISSN-L: 0048-9697
Volume: 777
Article number: 146053
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146053
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Funding: Financial support was given by AGRIGEN-NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000007, supported by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE2020), under the PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). F.S. and J.C.B. are supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia through grant PD/BD/132407/2017 and contract CEECINST/00014/2018; J.S. is supported by Academy of Finland through grant 272168.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 272168
Detailed Information: 272168 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license by