Access to Ecosystem Benefits: More than Proximity

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This article responds to a gap in existing research on access to environmental spaces in rural and coastal areas, especially of less advantaged members of society who could potentially benefit the most from exposure to such environments but face a whole host of constraints. We build on existing theorisations of access to natural resources and ecosystem services in the development literature and integrate insights from the sociology of access to environmental spaces, health geography and environmental psychology in industrialized contexts. We employ semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation with socio-economically disadvantaged respondents in Cornwall, UK. Participants’ accounts reveal four mechanisms that mediate access to ecosystem benefits: rights-based, physical, structural and relational, and psychosocial, and we thus extend Ribot and Peluso’s access framework. We conclude that socio-economic disadvantage mediates access to environmental spaces, in particular through psychosocial mechanisms, and highlight the interlinked and complementary nature of the four types of access mechanisms.




Szaboova, L., Brown, K., & Fisher, J. A. (2020). Access to Ecosystem Benefits: More than Proximity. Society and Natural Resources, 33(2), 244–260.

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