Importance-performance analysis (IPA) is considered a useful tool for examining people's expectations (or what is important to them) and satisfaction level. With the IPA process, quality characteristics are separated into four categories according to their level of importance and level of performance. This study used an IPA to identify the importance and performance of the social value of ecosystem services provided by a riparian greenway in South Korea. The study was based on the premise that managing riparian greenways sustainably in urban communities requires an understanding of the residents' anticipated value of the ecosystem services provided by the greenways. The study was also based on the understanding that “ecosystem services play an important role in interconnecting ecological components and social components in urban communities by providing benefits to humans and ecosystems.”
A printed survey was delivered to 2500 households in a residential area adjacent to riparian greenways in a community near Seoul, South Korea. Residents were invited to complete the survey and mail it back to researchers within one week. A total of 512 people responded. The questionnaire included three main sections: one relating to the social value of ecosystem services attributes; one focusing on the visitation patterns and familiarity with the study site; and the third relating to sociodemographic data, including the residency period. The first step in analyzing the data involved classifying the respondents into different groups based on the perceived importance of ecosystem services. Two distinct groups were identified: the Strong Social Value of Ecosystem Services (S-SVES) group; and the Neutral Social Value of Ecosystem Services (N-SVES) group. Applying IPA allowed the researchers to identify what each group perceived to be important and how well the riparian greenway met their expectations regarding ecosystem services.
“Different distributions were found between the two groups based on gender and residency period, and significant differences were also found for age and familiarity with the riparian greenway.” The S-SVES group was composed of a higher percentage of older female residents reporting significantly higher familiarity with the riparian greenway than the N-SVES group. People living near the riparian greenway for more than 20 years were more likely to be in the S-SVES group. Both groups thought the riparian greenway performed well in terms of consumptive ecosystem services, such as the “Aesthetic”, “Biological”, “Future”, “Intrinsic”, and “Life-sustaining” values. Both groups thought that nonconsumptive ecosystem services were low priorities, including the “Cultural”, “Economic”, “Historic”, and “Spiritual” values. The two groups had different perceptions regarding “Learning,” “Recreational,” and “Therapeutic” values.
While a variety of tools are available for measuring the environmental and biological performance of greenways, tools for measuring their social performance are far more limited. This research indicates that IPA can be “an effective and flexible tool to evaluate local residents' perceptions about the functioning of greenways along a number of important social dimensions.” Once such perceptions are identified, management and planning policies can then be developed to meet the needs and interests of different population groups. IPA can help to prioritize riparian greenway issues based on what ecosystem services nearby residents value.