Ecosystem services and uses of dune systems of the coast of the Araucania Region, Chile: A perception study

Coastal dunes can offer a series of Ecosystem Services (ES), especially to local communities. This study aimed to evaluate these benefits by exploring the perception of the Mapuche communities and representatives of the local government concerning the ES provided by the coastal dune fields of the Araucania Region of Chile. Binary, multiple-choice, Likert scale and open questions were used to explore the general knowledge of 49 subjects about the ES provided by the dunes. Closed questions were analysed using Fisher's exact test, and tests of goodness of fit chi-square and G, while open questions were analysed by qualitative content analysis. The results showed that (1) cultural services were more important for Mapuche communities, while tourism was more valued for local government, (2) tourism and stock-raising were the most frequent use given to the dunes in the opinion of local government and Mapuche communities respondents, respectively, (3) both groups think that dunes offer habitat for biodiversity, and (4) the regulation of natural processes is one of the most important functions for both groups, although Mapuche communities consider that dune fields would not attenuate the effects of a tsunami. The conclusion is that dune fields offer a series of benefits, which are perceived in different ways by Mapuche communities and representatives of the local government. The lack of recognition of this knowledge is one of the main gaps in Chile's territorial planning instruments since it could make a decisive contribution to the management of social-ecological systems by zoning areas and identifying singular components, especially in Mapuche territories.

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