Ecosystem services, a globalizing discourse referring to benefits humans gain from ecosystems, has been rapidly mainstreamed into scientific and political thinking of environmental management. However, non-material benefits, also known as cultural services, have been rather subsumed within the dominant ecosystem services discourse. This paper explores local cultural services in the Mai Pokhari, a Ramsar site of Nepal, and adopts a multi-scalar analysis to explore the implications of global policy making at the local scale.The research, informed by political ecology, applies mixed methods. At the local scale, spirituality, sense of place and traditional practices were identified as important local cultural values within ecosystem management. But such local values were found to be marginalized in conservation policy making at national and global levels. The Ramsar listing at the case study site resulted in restrictions on community activities and opened the possibility of resettlement, creating disenchantment among the local community whose access to cultural services was curtailed. The study emphasizes the need to recognise and value local cultural services in policy-making at all levels. This is important not only for refining and improving global conservation policy initiatives based on ecosystem services, but also for securing just and sustainable conservation and development goals.
- Cultural services
- Multi-scalar analysis