People and Nature (Oct 2021)

Understanding relational values in cultural landscapes in Romania and Germany

  • Maraja Riechers,
  • Ágnes Balázsi,
  • John‐Oliver Engler,
  • Girma Shumi,
  • Joern Fischer

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3, no. 5
pp. 1036 – 1046


Read online

Abstract Relational values recently emerged as a concept to comprehensively understand and communicate the many values of nature. Relational values can be defined as preferences and principles about human–nature relationships and focus both on human–nature connections and well as human–human connections. Here, drawing on 819 face‐to‐face questionnaires, we analysed relational, intrinsic and instrumental values across a total of six agricultural landscapes in Transylvania (Romania) and Lower Saxony (Germany). The landscapes described a gradient of land use intensity, within and across the countries. Our results suggest a bundling of values into four groups: those concerned with individual cognition (including intrinsic values), those that focus on nature as a place for social interaction and relaxation, those that capture cultural identity and spiritual values and one bundle that only includes instrumental values. These different values, in turn, were strongly related to (a) respondents’ attitudes towards environmental conservation and the (b) frequency with which respondents used nature as a resource. Instrumental values have the tendency to be inversely related to relational values and were found to increase with the land use intensity of the focal landscapes. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.