Agriculture 2022, 12, 457. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12040457 www.mdpi.com/journal/agriculture
Nature’s Contributions to People Shape Sense of Place
in the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
Beatriz E. Murillo-López 1,*, Antonio J. Castro 2,3 and Alexander Feijoo-Martínez 1
1 Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Technological University of Pereira, Pereira 660003, Colombia;
2 Andalusian Centre for the Assessment and Monitoring of Global Change (CAESCG),
Department of Biology and Geology, University of Almeria, 04120 Almeria, Spain; firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA
* Correspondence: email@example.com; Tel.: +57-30-0652-3575
Abstract: Understanding the roots of a sense of place in farmlands is crucial for stopping rural exo-
dus to urban areas. Farmers’ experiences related to their way of life, peace and quiet, rootedness,
pleasure, and inspiration are fundamental components of a sense of place in farmlands. Here, we
used the city of Pereira located in the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC) to examine
the role of nature’s contributions to people (NCP) in forming meanings and attachments that shape
their sense of place to this region. This region has experienced intense agricultural lands abandon-
ment due to rapid urbanization over the last decades. To do so, a mixture of qualitative and quan-
titative methods was used, including semi-structured interviews, observation, and dialogue, to cap-
ture farmers’ perceptions and emotions associated with farmlands, reasons for remaining, and the di-
versity of NCPs. Results indicated that farmers recognized farmlands as a quiet and safe space that sup-
port family cohesion. Results also showed that the characteristics of the farms (e.g., agricultural practices,
distance to cities, and gender) play an important role in articulating a farmer’s attachment to farmlands.
Finally, farmers identified nonmaterial NCP (e.g., physical and psychological experiences and support-
ive identities) to be the most important contributions for shaping their sense of place. We call for the need
to include robust and transparent deliberative and negotiation mechanisms that are inclusive of all rele-
vant stakeholders, to aim to address unequal power, and to recognize and strengthen communities’
mechanisms of action on the CCLC.
Keywords: socioecological systems; local identity; rural abandonment; agroecology; world heritage site
According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the supply of food, energy, and materials to
human communities is increasing at the expense of nature’s capacity to provide, produc-
ing drastic effects on ecosystems that sustain livelihoods . In the processes of human
use and modification of nature’s resources, relationships between people and lands are
formed and evolve over time, shaping cultural roots to the land. Understanding this hu-
man–nature relationship requires approaches that capture factors that articulate a sense
of place, including meaning, attachment, characteristics of places, the complexity of envi-
ronmental values, and individual experiences within the landscape .
The transformation of the ecosystems in the central Andes of South America has con-
figured in the Colombian coffee-growing region environments in which the cultivation of
diverse varieties of coffee has predominated, which have given rise to exports to interna-
tional markets [3–5]. Traditional coffee crops are accompanied by multiple subsystems
that form mosaics and patches between successions of natural vegetation, riparian areas
close to bodies of water, Guadua angustifolia and the predominance of cultivated plants as
Citation: Murillo-López, B.E.;
Castro, A.J.; Feijoo-Martínez, A.
Nature’s Contributions to People
Shape Sense of Place in the Coffee
Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457.
Academic Editors: José Luis Vicente-
Vicente, Cristina Quintas-Soriano
and María D. López-Rodríguez
Received: 9 February 2022
Accepted: 18 March 2022
Published: 24 March 2022
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neu-
tral with regard to jurisdictional
claims in published maps and institu-
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Li-
censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and con-
ditions of the Creative Commons At-
tribution (CC BY) license (https://cre-
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 2 of 25
companions of the systems, which are friendly to the conservation of the biodiversity of
the macrofauna of the soil . However, the intense use and transformation of the tradi-
tional farming and natural system (gallery and/or riparian forest and bamboo forest) in
favor of urban expansion (discontinued urban fabric) is producing a decline of traditional
farmlands systems (traditional coffee and plantain crops) and their biodiversity , thus
altering the sustainable way of living of rural communities .
This context of the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCLC) led to its declara-
tion in 2011 as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The CCLC is considered a landscape that should be
prioritized for preservation because of its tangible and intangible significance to the terri-
tory, and it is at risk of losing its unique sociocultural roots that rural families have formed
with traditional farming systems present there . Among the major risks are urban ex-
pansion (e.g., construction of condominiums increases the discontinuous urban fabric)
and the intensification of the agriculture (e.g., cattle pastures and plantain and avocado
monocultures), which have caused a simplification and homogenization of the landscape,
displacing agricultural lands with traditional uses and their communities, leading to the
loss of agricultural culture, biodiversity, and sense of place . Together, these land trans-
formations have particularly changed the agricultural practices of the city of Pereira lo-
cated in the western foothills of the Cordillera Central above the Cauca River valley.
The most dominant farming practices in the CCLC are peasant and semi-industrial
styles. The semi-industrial style centralizes labor productivity and growth, mainly based
on the mobilization of external resources, which leads to a disconnection between tradi-
tional farming and nature, while the peasant style focuses on autonomy, family labor, and
self-controlled resources that depend on the sustainable use of ecological capital [10,11].
These farming styles highlight the different ways in which farmers relate to farm re-
sources and production as a business, as well as provide care for families [11,12]. These
farming styles also differ in the environmental pressure they place on ecosystems and in
the diversity of nature´s contributions (NCP) they provide to people .
This investigation adds to the growing body of research addressing the connection be-
tween people and nature through the assessment of how NCP shape a sense of place in rural
settings (Figure 1). Our intention is to understand the relationship between farming style,
sense of place, and NCP, because these concepts are solidly rooted in cultural repertoires. To
advance this aim, it is necessary to not only recognize and integrate the characteristics of farm-
ers and farms, but also to explore rootedness, security, and feelings associated with farmlands
. By addressing these factors, it will be possible to provide a better and more informed
guidance in the future on sustainable land management in these areas .
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 3 of 25
Figure 1. Conceptual framework of a sense of place through the NCP lens.
Sense of place is defined as a motivation for stewardship and actions to care for the
environment and use the resources it provides. It is also presented as a cognitive and emo-
tional variable that mediates how people respond to social-ecological change [16,17]. The
human–nature relationship is nonlinear and often depends on the formations of relational
values, i.e., values that arise from a relationship with nature, encompassing a sense of
place, feelings of well-being (mental and physical health), and cultural, community, or
personal identities [18–21]. Farmers have a complex relationship with farmlands as they
have the ability to read nature and make decisions to protect or use resources. Addition-
ally, farms are multifunctional landscapes (e.g., areas production, conservation, and re-
laxing zone) that can be related to specific relational values of farmlands [12,22,23]. The
CCLC is shaped by mosaics (e.g., patches of interconnected crops and natural areas) and
are inhabited by rural families holding beliefs, attitudes, and social norms that create
farmland with high cultural value. Sense of place in this region has been described as a
wide range of connections between people and places that develop based on the place
meanings and attachment a person has for a particular setting [16,24]. We integrated the
concept of nature’s contributions to people (NCP) framework developed by IPBES to cap-
ture a broad range of worldviews, knowledge systems, and stakeholders. The NCP ap-
proach recognizes the central and pervasive role that culture plays in defining all links
between people and nature , and the importance of local knowledge for understand-
ing meanings, motivations, and attachment to agricultural landscapes (Figure 1).
Within this context, this study aims to examine the role of NCP in shaping the sense
of place of farmers in the CCLC. Specifically, we focused on examining the role of mean-
ings, attachments, values, and connection associated with nature in shaping the sense of
place to this region. To do so, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods were used
to (i) characterize the diversity of farmers and farms of a case study located in the CCLC;
(ii) examine the diversity of emotions associated with farmlands, as well as sociodemo-
graphic factors that explain them; (iii) explore the sense of place of local communities
through exploring motivations to remaining in the region; (iv) identify the diversity of
nature’s contributions to people that articulated farmers´ sense of place; (v) to explore the
visions of local communities regarding the future of the CCLC.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Area: The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia
The study was conducted in the rural area of the city of Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia,
located between 4°43′4.8″ N and 75°50′38.4″ W and 4°52′15.6″ N and 75°36′18″ W. The
farms are located between 1221 and 1922 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level) (Figure 2). The
average temperature is 21.2 °C; the average total annual rainfall was 2301 mm and the
relative air humidity ranges yearly between 73 and 79% . Pereira occupies an area of
607 km2 and the approximate population is 467,269 inhabitants, of which 81,432 (17.4%)
are residents of the rural area .
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 4 of 25
Figure 2. Geographic location of farms in the CCLC and current land cover and land-use type.
2.1.1. Land-Use and Land-Cover Change in the CCLC
Over the last three decades, significant changes in land use and cover have been docu-
mented in the CCLC affecting the agricultural production of coffee and other native crops. In
1997 the export in Colombia of agricultural products was 32.5% of the total exported; however,
in 2011 it was reduced to 8.2% of the export of agricultural products . Changes in land
cover and urban expansion in the city of Pereira begin to show the decrease in lands used for
coffee cultivation (from 1997 to 2014 it went from 10,706 ha to 5454 ha). Likewise, permanent
crops decreased from 5747 ha to 3646 ha for the same period of analysis and transitory crops
decreased by 214 ha , which placed more pressure in the rural sector due to the change in
the type of agricultural production (i.e., pastures for cattle, industrial avocado cultivation) and
livelihood of rural communities (i.e., land for human occupation—gentrification), thus influ-
encing factors that shape the sense of place, identity, and heritage.
2.1.2. Farms Characteristics and Locations in the CCLC
Pereira is a municipality of the CCLC and extends through some of the coffee-producing
areas at the foothills of the western and central mountain ranges of the Cordillera de los An-
des. The characteristics of the area reflect the process of adaptation of coffee cultivation to the
complex conditions imposed by the Colombian Andes . The CCLC represents traditional
forms of human settlements with small-to-medium-sized production units (between 0.5–2.6
ha), with steep slopes (15–50% inclination), elevation between 1000–2000 m.a.s.l., precipitation
between 1600–2700 mm, and average temperature of 22.2 °C [9,29,30].
The CCLC is a continuously productive landscape that has shaped the cultural con-
nection of rural communities to the land over decades. The coffee-growing families have
mainly planted coffee, accompanied by subsistence crops (corn, beans, plantain, fruit
trees) and with a low level of mechanization. The cultural practices have been passed
down through generations and reflect a knowledge based on experience and understand-
ing of the surroundings . In addition, this small-scale production is distinguished by its
family-based workforces, whereby the producer and family all work on the farm. Most
families tend to live on the premises and so are able to constantly supervise their coffee
plants and other crops. Only when the production cycle is at a peak are workers from
outside the family hired—on a temporary basis—to help with harvesting [28,30,31]. The
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 5 of 25
farm work is often built on the family farm by doing, making mistakes, correcting them
by repeatedly reperforming the activities, and by observing and hearing experiences of neigh-
boring farmers . Farms are centers of (informal) education for families, mainly about crops,
practices, and strategies, making the families and their farms into an expression of coffee cul-
Exploring the sense of place in the CCLC requires methodologies that can reveal
meanings, attachments, relational, and historical values to these lands . We selected
27 farms based on their proximity to agricultural areas of Pereira (i.e., no forest and sem-
inatural areas, no artificial surfaces), primary productive activity (i.e., no livestock, no
tourism), and farmer willingness to participate in this study (Figure 2).
2.2. Social Sampling Strategy
Farms were selected by the willingness and desire of rural families to provide infor-
mation on the values and perceptions they hold in relation to farms and rural landscapes.
This study conducted a qualitative research method through the use of semistructured inter-
views, in-person observation, and informal conversation with farmers [33,34] (Figure 3). The
strength of these techniques lies in the creation of bonds of trust between farmers and
interviewers to obtain information reflecting meanings and attachment to farmers’ values
related to the agricultural landscape. Since farmers are often heterogeneous in terms of
their relationship with the environment, it was crucial to develop a relationship of trust.
This method has been previously used to collect information about emotional connections
to natural features and rural landscapes . A total of 27 in-person interviews across all
selected farms were conducted between August and December 2018.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 6 of 25
Figure 3. Methodological steps of the research approach.
2.3. Semistructured Questionnaire Design
The semistructured questionnaire was separated into five sections (Figure 3). In-per-
son interviews were on average one and a half hours and were conducted by the research
group Management in Tropical Andean Agroecosystems (GATA, Spanish acronym)—
Technological University of Pereira (UTP). The semistructured interviews included open
questions aiming to explore farmers and farm characteristics, as well as their perceptions
and feelings associated to rural landscapes. In addition, farmer’s motivations to remain in
the farm and the diverse contributions (i.e., NCP) they perceived from the rural land-
scapes were explored. Once permission was obtained from the interviewees, each inter-
view was recorded to facilitate the information collection of the interviewee’s story and
keep the details exactly as they were expressed .
1. Farms Selection
Land Cover (agricultural surface)
Urban area distance
Agricultural production system
Time of permanence
2. Social sampling
+ Guide questions
+ Semistructured interview
+ Recording of interviews
+ Tabulation of information in Excel
3. Semistructured Interview
Farmers and families' perceptions and values
Research group Management in Tropical Andean Agroecosystems (GATA) – UTP
Farmers and farms characteristics
Qualitative variables as: family type, gender, educational level, relationship with the farm, and production destination
Quantitative variables as: age of the farmers, area of the farm, height above sea level, distance from urban area
Multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) in R
Distance from urban area
Type of Crop
Explore the diversity of emotions associated with farmlands
What feelings or sensations do you have about the farm?
What do you think about the place where you live?
Code: tranquility, happiness, rootedness, safety, awe, vitality, freedom, interest
Explore the motivations underpinning the level of attachment of local communities to continue living in the farm
Do you like living on the farm? Why do you remain on the farm?
Code: place, pleasure, identity, tranquility, quality air, freedom, labor, no poverty, security, and support community
Analysis: Kruskal–Wallis and plotted average responses
Identify the diversity of nature's contributions to people provided to some farms in the CCLC
What do you like most about living on the farm?
What does the farm offer you?
Code: NCP regulatory: habitat creation and maintenance and air quality regulation
NCP material: food and feed
NCP nonmaterial: learning and inspiration, physical and psychological experiences, and supportive identities
NCP 18: Maintenance of options
Analysis: Kruskal–Wallis and plotted the the significant results
Identify visions of local communities with respect to the future of living in the rural landscape
How do you imagine the future of the rural landscape?
Drivers of change of Millenium Ecosystem Assessment
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 7 of 25
2.3.1. Farmers and Farms’ Characteristics
The questionnaire collected qualitative information such as family type (childless
couples, nuclear, extended) , gender (female and male), educational level (primary
school, high school, technical, technology, university degree), origin, type of relationship
with farms (managers, owner-managers, owners, workers) and destination of crop pro-
duction (sale and self-consumption, sale). Additionally, quantitative information related
to the farmers’ age, farm surface area, altitude, time of tenure and time spent on the farm
were collected . Farmers and the 27 farms’ characteristics were classified based on the
data provided by the interviewees and farms’ information. We chose two ranges for each
qualitative variable; the range was calculated by subtracting the minimum value from the
maximum value of the data set, and this range was divided by two to classify farmers and
farms according to the characteristics of the group (Figure 3).
A farming style is defined as a distinctive way of ordering the many sociomaterial
interrelations involved in farming . Each farming style is a description of the way
farmers and rural families arrange the available resources (e.g., labor, land, input, and
time) for the exploitation and replication of the production system [10,11,22,36–39]. Infor-
mation collected from each farm was used to classify them as peasant or semi-industrial
style. We used variables such as farmer’s relationship to the farm and time living in the
farm as well as farm surface, crop types, and which crops generate income; information
related to the tenure of the farm, hiring personnel, and destination of the production were
taken into account.
Farms were classified as near or far from Pereira City. To determine the distance (near
or far), a layer of roads of the municipality was assembled  and a distance matrix was
created. The type of road was taken into account (levels of difficulty according to the con-
ditions of the roads—earthen roads to cement concrete road—where the value ranged
from 1 to 7, with 7 being the weight of the road with the greatest difficulty to be traveled
by farmers to carry agricultural production to the city). The matrix was generated from
the farms to the market place in Pereira. The result was a matrix with the weight of the
roads (distance in meters and the value in difficulty of the roads to reach the center of
Pereira) (Table A1). To analyze the characteristics of the farmers and farms, a multivariate
analysis was performed using the age and gender of farmers and the distance to the urban
area, type of crops, production destination, and area. A multiple correspondence analysis
(MCA) in R was used to explain the relationship between types of farmers and farms’
2.3.2. Farmer’s Emotions Associated with Farm Landscapes in the CCLC
We asked farmers about their emotions generated by living on these farm landscapes.
We introduced different questions to explore their perceptions and facilitate the dialogue with
farmers. The following questions were asked: What feelings or sensations do you have about
the farm? What do you think about the place where you live? Responses were coded accord-
ing to eight emotions associated with living on the farm, including tranquility, happiness,
rootedness, safety, awe, vitality, freedom, and interest (see Tables A1 and A2). Several emo-
tions could be associated with one single response. A Kruskal–Wallis analysis was performed
to find correlations between farmers’ and farms’ characteristics and the diversity of emotions
2.3.3. Sense of Place of Local Communities in the CCLC
The sense of place within farm landscapes was examined by using multiple ques-
tions, including Do you like living on the farm? Why do you remain on the farm? Re-
sponses were coded according to motivations to continue living on the farm and classified
as place, pleasure, identity, tranquility, air quality, freedom, labor, no poverty, security,
and support community (see Tables A1 and A2). The Kruskal–Wallis analysis is a nonpar-
ametric test for comparing variances of more than two variables and it was used to explore
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 8 of 25
differences between farmers’ and farms’ characteristics with motivations to continue liv-
ing in the CCLC (Figure 3).
2.3.4. Diversity of Nature’s Contributions to People Provided by Farms in the CCLC
To explore the diversity of NCP associated with farms, the following questions were
asked, including What do you like most about living on your farm? What does the farm
offer you? Each response was transcribed and classified into the material and nonmaterial
NCP proposed by Díaz et al. . Considering the mean of the responses, a Kruskal–Wal-
lis analysis was performed to explore the relationship between farmers’ and farms’ char-
acteristics and NCP (Figure 3). NCP were grouped into material, nonmaterial, and regu-
lating categories. In these categories NCP18 was not included because this contribution is
considered in the three groups (material, nonmaterial and regulating NCP) for Diaz et al.
. For this reason, we analyzed it separately (see Tables A1 and A2).
2.3.5. Visions of Local Communities Regarding to the Future of the CCLC
To explore how farmers and their families perceive the future of the rural landscape
in the CCLC, we asked how do you imagine the future of the rural landscape? Responses
were classified according to three categories: disappearance of rural areas, displacement,
and uncertainty due to change. Additionally, we asked farmers to express motivation un-
derpinning their responses, which were classified as both direct and indirect drivers of
global change [41,42], including sociopolitical change and land-use change, as well as eco-
nomic, cultural, and climate change (Figure 3). Two direct drivers were mainly recognized
as change promoters in the region, i.e., land-use change and climate change. Additionally,
we recognized visions associated with three indirect drivers: economy, political, and cul-
ture . The economy was defined as per capita income and the taxes and subsidies pro-
vided by the government; the political reasons were defined as the mechanisms for the
development of the rural sector; the culture was determined as values, beliefs, and norms
that a group of people share.
3.1. Farmers and Farms’ Characteristics
Farmers interviewed were mainly from Risaralda (15 farmers), Valle del Cauca (5),
Caldas (3), Quindío (2), and Antioquia (1). Only one farmer did not express its place of
origin. The interviewees were made up of farm owners (48%), owner-managers (26%),
managers (19%), and farm workers (7%). The age of the interviewees ranged from 26 to
85 years old, and the time spent in the region ranged from 3 to 69 years.
We found that 33.3% of farmers were female. It was also found that 44.4% of them
were between 60 and 85 years of age (elderly). The educational level was heterogeneous,
with 33% of farmers with no studies, 22% with elementary school, 19% with high school,
11% with a university degree (15% of responses were not registered). We found that the
most common family type was the extended family (i.e., more family members live in the
household, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), followed by the nuclear
family (parents and children). Regarding the farms’ characteristics, we found that 66.7%
of the farms showed changes in land use between 1997 and 2014, the most dominant being
a land transition from coffee to heterogeneous agriculture practices. We also found that
some farms persisted despite being located in urban cover areas. Finally, 55.6% of the
farms were located far from the urban area (Table 1).
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 9 of 25
Table 1. Farmers and farms’ characteristics in the CCLC.
Type of crops *
Type of crops gener-
ating income **
Time on the farm
Destination of the
Sale and self-con-
* Type of crops: Traditional, are defined as those crops that have always been cultivated in the
area of the farm (coffee, banana and citrus); Innovative, refers to crops that have not been tradi-
tional in the area, are new to the area of study (tropical flowers, succulents, vegetables). ** Type of
crops generate income: It is related to the type and number of crops that provide the economic
income for the farm. Monoculture: one crop; Subsidiary: Several crops contribute to income.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 10 of 25
Two farming styles were identified, 66.7% with arrangements tending towards peas-
ant and 33.3% towards semi-industrial farms (Table 1). The peasant style was character-
ized by farms with an area of less than 14 ha, with traditional crops, crop association, no
hired personnel, and production destined for sale and self-consumption. In addition, in
the peasant style, the person in charge of the farm’s activities and administration was the
owner or an administrator who had been on the farm for more than 37 years. On the other
hand, farms with a semi-industrial style were represented by farms with more than 14 ha,
dominated by novel monocultures, with hired personnel for field work and the produc-
tion was destined for sale. Additionally, we found that the person in charge of the farm
was an administrator or hired worker who had been with the farm for less than 36 years.
The MCA differentiated significant associations between farmers’ and farms’ charac-
teristics. Dimension 1 identified the relationship between the variables farm with area
greater than 14 ha and destination of the production for sale, while in dimension 2, the
variables that contributed the most were crop type, monoculture, and distance near and
far; in dimension 3, they were female and male genders (Figures 4 and A2–A4). The first
three dimensions explained 76.1% of the variance. We found an associated statistical sig-
nificance in dimension 1 (36.7% of the variance) and in dimension 2 (26.3%). On the X-axis
(dimension 1), we found a good separation of farms according to area and production
destination. On the Y-axis (dimension 2), the farms were distributed in relation to type of
crop and distance (Figures 4 and A1). Farmers older than 60 years old were mainly female
and their production was for sale and self-consumption.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 11 of 25
Figure 4. Multiple correspondence analysis of farmers’ and farms’ characteristics.
3.2. Diversity of Emotions Associated with Farmlands
Results showed that farmers identified multiples emotions associated with living on
the farmlands of the CCLC. Examples of these emotions included “the farm is a lot of
peace, silence and tranquility” (tranquility); “The farm makes my soul happy” (happi-
ness); “I don’t know. I feel nostalgia when I work in the fields because I remember my
father, I imagine him working there” (rootedness); “The farm generates security” (safety);
“The farm is wonderful” (awe); “The farm is life, I breathe pure and clean air” (vitality);
“The farm is freedom” (freedom); and “Through the work on the farm I think and begin to
philosophize” (interest). According to the classification of the emotions used, we found that
tranquility (69%), happiness (31%), rootedness (27%), and safety (23%) were the most common
emotions or feelings associated with farm landscapes, followed by awe and vitality (15%),
freedom (12%), and interest (12%) (Figure 5).
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 12 of 25
Figure 5. Recognition of emotions generated by living on the farm.
We found that gender and age were significantly related to family rootedness (p <
0.05 for gender and p < 0.10 for age). Rootedness is understood as the affective bond they
have in accordance with the identity to the farm. Additionally, according to the farming
style, we found a significant relationship between the contribution of the farm to human
safety (p < 0.05), tranquility (p < 0.1) and happiness, admiration and vitality (p < 0.15).
Finally, we also found a correlation between the farm distance to urban areas and the
perceptions regarding farm rootedness and safety (p < 0.15 for both emotions) (Table 2).
Table 2. Variables that influence the different types of senses on the farm.
H of Kruskal–Wallis
Degree of freedom
H of Kruskal–Wallis
Degree of freedom
H of Kruskal–Wallis
Degree of freedom
H of Kruskal–Wallis
Degree of freedom
Signification of codes: 0.05, ‘***’; 0.1, ‘**’; 0.15, ‘*’.
3.3. Sense of Place of Local Communities in the CCLC
Regarding the farmers’ motivation to remain on these farm landscapes in the near
future, we found that 85% of the farmers expressed a positive motivation to remain in the
CCLC, while 11% of farmers responded negatively, and 4% felt uncertainty. The most
frequent motivations for remaining in this region were associated with the recognition of
farms as their place (85%), followed by pleasure and well-being of living there (37%), a
collective recognition of the countryside as a home (identity) (33%), tranquility, air quality
(clean and no noise), and the freedom of being in open spaces (22%). To a lesser extent,
we also found labor (19%), fullness (15%), and farming security (11%) to be important
motivations to remain in the region (Figure 6).
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 13 of 25
Figure 6. Farmer’s motivations to remaining in the CCLC. Signification of codes: 0.05, ‘***’; 0.1, ‘**’; 0.15,
Regarding gender, we found that men were strongly connected to farm tasks (p < 0.1),
while women mainly valued being on the farm the most (p < 0.05) and the recognition of
the farms as a home (p < 0.15). Regarding age, we found that older adults (over 60 years
old) were more willing to remain on the farm due to the recognition of the farm as a place
to live (p < 0.05) (Figure 6).
We also found that farms with a semi-intensive farming style valued tranquility more
than farms with a peasant style (p < 0.05). However, peasant farms recognized farms as
dwelling, providing pleasure and identity (p < 0.1) as motivations to remain. Regarding
the distance to urban areas, we observed that the farms closer to the urbanized areas
showed motivations to remain associated with fullness (p < 0.05). On the contrary, farms
located farther were more associated with benefits linked to tranquility, air quality, and
security (p < 0.15) (Figure 6).
3.4. Nature’s Contributions to People in the CCLC
Of the eighteen NCPs, farmers identified seven NCPs associated with the farm land-
scapes of the CCLC (Figure 7). We found that nonmaterial NCP were the most commonly
associated with farmlands, including physical and psychological experiences (NCP16,
85%), maintenance of options (NCP18, 74%), and supportive identities (NCP17 56%). We
also found regulating NCP such as habitat creation and maintenance (NCP1, 52%) and air
quality regulation (15%) to be important contributions in this region.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 14 of 25
Figure 7. Farmer’s perception of NCP provided by farms in the CCLC. NCP1, habitat creation and
maintenance; NCP2, pollination and dispersal of seeds and other propagules; NCP3, regulation of
air quality; NCP4, regulation of climate; NCP5, regulation of ocean acidification; NCP6 regulation
of freshwater quantity, location, and timing; NCP7, regulation of freshwater and coastal water qual-
ity; NCP8, formation, protection, and decontamination of soils and sediments; NCP9, regulation of
hazards and extreme events; NCP10, regulation of detrimental organisms and biological processes;
NCP11, energy; NCP12, food and feed; NCP13, materials, companionship, and labor; NCP14, me-
dicinal, biochemical, and genetic resources; NCP15, learning and inspiration; NCP16, physical and
psychological experiences; NCP17, supporting identities; NCP18, maintenance of options. Signifi-
cation of codes: 0.1, ‘**’.
We found significant differences in the mean response for nonmaterial and material
NCP across gender and farming style. Male identified more nonmaterial NCP than
women (p < 0.1) (Figure 7). Male recognized farms as spaces where identities are sup-
ported, a source of satisfaction and experiences, family rootedness, and agricultural tradi-
tions. Among the stories recorded, we found examples such as “Every night there is a
longing for the work of the other day” (rural man, 71 years old); “All my life I have lived
in the countryside, I have always liked it. And in the area, everything is very quiet, it is
safe” (rural man, 72 years old); “The farm gives me tranquility and brings back memories
of my childhood, of my tradition. And it is also safe” (rural man, 26 years old).
Regarding farming styles, we found significant differences in relation to the material
NCP (p < 0.05). In this sense, farms with peasant farming styles identified the importance
to secure food for families. An example of stories reflecting this is: “On the farm there is
always food within reach and there is no money involved” (rural woman, 37 years old);
in the peasant style the production of the farm is destined both for sale and for self-con-
sumption; on the contrary, farms with a semi-intensive style orient all their production
for sale and do not recognize these material contributions of the agricultural landscape to
the well-being of the rural family (Figure 7).
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 15 of 25
3.5. Visions of Local Communities Regarding the Future of the CCLC
Diverse visions were found associated with future changes in land use, including
“the growth of the city” and “destruction of the natural environment for urban expan-
sion”, while the climate change was mostly recognized with visions such as “the change
that has occurred in the rural sector has been mainly due to climate change” and “changes
in the climate are quite perceived, the rainy and sunny seasons are more intense”. We
found visions related to “rural work is very hard and poorly paid”, “rural people want to
go to the city in search of better opportunities”, “agricultural production is not profitable”
and “the government will not let agricultural production end” are reasons included in the
economy category. The political visions found were mainly related to “farmer is unpro-
tected, has no social security”, “the government does not support the field for lack of reg-
ulation and protection” and “the promotion of sustainable tourism with the people of the
area”. Moreover, the visions linked to culture were related to arguments such as “young
people do not want to continue with the farm and work it” and “there is no one to work
Of all visions found, 41.7% of farmers considered that the rural areas will disappear
in the near future, while 33.3% of them expressed uncertainty and 25% believed that dis-
placement to another site was the most likely option. Forty-seven reasons were collected
supporting these visions of the future of the CCLC, mostly justified by arguments related
to changes in land uses (27.7% of farmers), followed by economic arguments (23.4%), and
sociopolitical and cultural arguments (21.3%). Farmers recognized climate change as a
lesser force for future changes in rural areas, with 6.4% (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Farmers’ perspectives and supporting arguments regarding the future of CCLC.
4.1. Farmers and Farms’ Characteristics in the CCLC
Our results identified nonmaterial NCP (e.g., as physical and psychological experi-
ences maintenance of options and supportive identities) to be the most important contri-
butions shaping the sense of place of farmers in the CCLC. This is consistent with several
studies that have shown the long history of how rural families have developed cultural
roots and have coevolved with farming landscapes in multiple intangible ways and forms
[9,13]. Additionally, we found that farms’ characteristics (e.g., farming styles, distance to
cities, and gender) may play an important role in articulating farmers’ meanings and at-
tachment to these farmlands. In this sense, different farming styles appeared to be associ-
ated with the particular meanings and perceptions that farmers hold to the territory. This
finding is consistent with several other studies where inhabited places reflected people’s
values, histories, material, and symbolic practices [16,17,32], thus indicating the im-
portance of farming practices in shaping different levels of human connection to nature
and in forming land stewardship [44–47]. Specifically, we found that two farming styles,
peasant and semi-industrial, are shown to be influencing the farmers’ perception toward
particular NCP and emotions associated with farmlands (Figure 7, Table 2), and with mo-
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 16 of 25
tivations to remain in the CCLC (Figures 6 and 7). These results are consistent with find-
ings in the study Heterogeneity reconsidered , that showed the importance of coman-
agement of territory with communities for promoting land transitions that preserve and
shape the sense of place within the land.
We found that gender played an important role related to the emergence of “plu-
riactivity” in farmlands, which in the theories of the new rurality, stands out as the incur-
sion of women to generate income in especially nonagricultural activities. This is a rele-
vant result because it changes the configuration of the sense of place, incorporates into
future analyses the perspective of gender equity and the participation of different social
actors in development processes and projects. Then, the examination of the role of NCP
in the configuration of the farmers’ sense of place in the CCLC allowed an inquiry about
the new family configuration with increasing participation of women (33%), which as-
signs new functions to rural spaces in the ways of perceiving material, nonmaterial and
regulatory NCP (Figures 4, 6, and 7). A gender-inclusive analysis showed that men and
women often value NCP in different ways and may possess diverse knowledge, with im-
plications for the value of places for management priorities  and the formulation and
implementation of sustainable and equitable policies and interventions .
4.2. Sense of Place in the CCLC
Sense of place is defined as the meanings and attachments that people possess in a terri-
tory [12,16,17] (Figure 9). Our findings were able to identify specific NCP underpinning the
diversity meanings and the attachment of Pereira’s farmers to the farmlands in the CCLC.
Figure 9. Characterization of the sense of place in the CCLC (adapted from Masterson et al. ).
Firstly, the diversity of meanings found were mainly interpreted through the diver-
sity of emotions towards farmlands and the opportunities associated with learning and
inspiration (NCP 15). Examples of these emotions included tranquility, happiness, free-
dom, and interest, and can be interpreted as reflections of farmers’ experiences of living
in the CCLC. This result is aligned with findings of Rajala and Sorice  that showed
how landowners’ emotions can contribute directly to farmers’ emotional health.
Secondly, as defined by , attachment to a place is developed through daily and
sustained interactions, as well as a strong motivation to maintain the relationship with a
place over time. Our findings identified a relationship between farmers and place in the
CCLC (i.e., interpreted the place identity and dependence). Place identity defines an indi-
vidual’s personal identity with the physical environment [16,17]. Our study captured the
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 17 of 25
reasonings for remaining in the CCLC such as “I am a peasant and very proud of my
roots”, which reflects on how a person’s identity is linked to a place and depends on spe-
cific farmland contributions, such as supporting identity (NCP17) and psychological ex-
periences (NCP16) associated with living on a farm. Here, we argue that this qualitative
information must be used for the understanding of identity and attachment along agricul-
tural landscapes . These findings also support recent insights that have shown how
the landscapes of the CCLC are intrinsically connected with cultural assets and meanings
ascribed to farmlands [19,21,32].
The place dependency to farmlands conveys an instrumental connection between
people and place, conceived and measured as the capacity of an environment to facilitate
the achievement of goals and satisfy important needs . Our results found that the most
important material nature’s contribution to people identified in farms of the CCLC was
food production (NCP 12), which is crucial to sustain livelihoods of local communities. In
addition, one of the strongest reasons given by farmers to remain on the farmlands of the
CCLC was the place where they inhabit themselves, which can be interpreted as a way to
recognize the capacity of this region to provide security and support tranquility of liveli-
hoods (Figure 6). Another example of place dependency bonds to the land was revealed
to be communities’ perceptions of farms as a space that maintains the options for a good
quality of life (NCP 18) and as a place where they have been able and can continue to
develop their livelihoods and persist. This may reflect how place dependence enhances
place identity and in turn influences people’s responsible behavior [46,50]. Here, we argue that
this finding can be interpreted as evidence that farmers do not perceive themselves as sepa-
rated from their farms in the Pereira CCLC.
Finally, results obtained in this study must be interpreted in the context of some lim-
itations. First, one limitation had to do with the impossibility of sampling a larger number
of farms and farmers due to the lack of financial resources and the need for additional
fieldwork research assistants. Second, another limitation had to do with the difficulty in
building trust with farmers, which influenced our ability to run more extensive interviews
and obtain more precise information regarding the institutional aspects of farmland gov-
ernance in the CCLC. Finally, the lack of security in the Pereira region greatly hindered
sampling efforts in the study due to the local communities’ distrust of visitors or foreign-
UNESCO recognized in 2011 the CCLC as a world heritage site, which influenced
Colombia laws and management plans for its preservation and care. This study provides
empirical evidence of the important role that nature’s contributions to people play in
shaping the sense of place and land heritage in the CCLC. The diverse farms studied in
the CCLC showed how the heterogeneity of farming styles are key for preserving biocul-
tural diversity of this region, which demonstrates the strong relationship between sense
of place and human behavior and provides evidence that affective attachment to lands
can shape behavior towards nature protection. However, progressing on this direction
requires time to build trust with farmers and financial and human resources to create col-
lective planning strategies. Future work must address the need for robust and transparent
deliberative and negotiation mechanisms that are inclusive of all relevant stakeholders
(i.e., their perceptions and cultural differences), aim to address unequal power, and rec-
ognize and strengthen communities’ governance within the CCLC.
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, B.E.M.-L., A.J.C., and A.F.-M.; methodology, B.E.M.-L. and
A.J.C.; formal analysis, B.E.M.-L.; investigation, B.E.M.-L. and A.F.-M.; writing—original draft prepara-
tion, B.E.M.-L.; writing—review and editing, A.J.C. and A.F.-M.; visualization, B.E.M.-L.; supervision,
A.F.-M. and A.J.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 18 of 25
Funding: The doctoral thesis was supported by the internal funds of the Vice-Rectory of Research
of the Technological University of Pereira, Colombia (E2-18-2). The first author was funded by a
scholarship of COLCIENCIA-COLFUTURO (647), Colombia and a mobility grant funded by the AUIP.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the
study. The authors were authorized by all interviewees based on Law 1581 of 2012, article 9 and 12,
Regulatory Decree 1377 of 2013 article 10 of Colombia.
Data Availability Statement: Not applicable.
Acknowledgments: We thank all the farmers who kindly allowed us to enter their farms and who
generously responded to our semistructured interview. This publication is part of the doctoral thesis
in environmental sciences of the first author in the Graduate Programme of the Faculty of Environ-
mental Sciences of the Technological University of Pereira. The doctoral thesis was supported by
the internal convocation of the Vice-Rectory of Research of the Technological University of Pereira,
Colombia (E2-18-2). The first author had a forgivable loan scholarship from COLCIENCIA-COLFU-
TURO for her doctoral studies (647), Colombia. This publication was funded by UAL. Finally, the authors
appreciate the participation and support provided by the research group Socio-Ecological Research Lab
at the University of Almeria and the Management in Tropical Andean Agroecosystems (GATA—Spanish
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Table A1. Definition and summary of variables.
Variable Definition. Brief Explanation
Farmers and farms’
Gender of the interviewed farmer
Age of the interviewed farmer
Comprise ways of organizing and reorganizing the internal and
external requirements of the farms and are firmly rooted in a stock of
Whether or not there was a change in land cover around the farms
between 1997 and 2014
Distance variable as near and far from the most central collection
center in the city
Quality or state of being tranquil; calmness; peacefulness; quiet;
serenity; free from or unaffected by disturbing emotions; unagitated;
State of pleasant spiritual and physical satisfaction
An affection, a virtue, a use or a habit: to become very firm; to
establish oneself permanently in a place, binding oneself to people
Quality of a site that provides security, certainty, confidence
To see, contemplate or consider with special esteem or pleasure
something that calls our attention because of qualities judged as
1. f. Quality of having life; 2. f. activity or efficiency of the vital
faculties (quality of life)
The natural ability of people to act in one way or another, and not to
act, so they are responsible for their actions
Inclination or attraction felt towards an object or activity they like;
activity that is done habitually and for pleasure in leisure time
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 19 of 25
Reasons to remain
Farmers define it as the space in which their place is; the farm is more
than that space for agricultural production; it is the personal
relationship with the territory, where production takes place, where
the family lives and is formed
Pleasure is related to the feeling of well-being generated by staying on
the farm and not being in the city
Farmers are defined in relation to the farm, the rural life, working in
the field and being a farmer; it is related to the roots and tradition
Quality or state of being tranquil; calmness; peacefulness; quiet;
serenity. Free from or unaffected by disturbing emotions; unagitated;
They express that the air on the farm is clean
The natural ability of people to act in one way or another, and not to
act, so they are responsible for their actions.
Farmers express freedom on the farm as open space, open doors and
windows; the possibility of going from one place to another without
restrictions in the space itself
Related to always having something to do, being busy, and feeling
They express that there is never a lack of food on the farm no matter
how difficult the situation
Quality of a site that provides security, certainty, confidence
Strength in the relationship with the community; the neighborhood
that exists; the support and care provided to each other
to people (NCP)
Habitat creation and
“…conditions necessary or favorable for living beings of direct or
indirect importance to humans”
Regulation of air
Perception “…Filtration, fixation, degradation or storage of pollutants
that directly affect human health or infrastructure”
Food and feed
“Production of food from wild managed, or domesticated organisms”
“Provision, by landscapes, seascapes, habitats or organisms, of
opportunities for the development of the capabilities that allow
humans to prosper through education, acquisition of knowledge and
development of skills for well-being, information, and inspiration for
art and technological design”
“Provision, by landscapes, seascapes, habitats or organisms, of
opportunities for physically and psychologically beneficial activities,
healing, relaxation, recreation, leisure, tourism and aesthetic
enjoyment based on the close contact with nature”
Landscapes, seascapes, habitats or organisms being the basis for
religious, spiritual, and social-cohesion experiences; source of
satisfaction derived from knowing that a particular landscape,
seascape, habitat or species exists
Capacity of ecosystems, habitats, species or genotypes to keep options
open in order to support a good quality of life
We investigated the role of the diversity of NCP in shaping the sense of place in the
CCLC. We followed the approach of Masterson et al. (2017) where place attachment and
place meanings are described as key concept to understand the motivation for
stewardship and actions to care for the environment and use the resources.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 20 of 25
In this sense, (i) the farmers’ emotions associated with farm landscapes are connected
with place meanings; (ii) the reasons of local communities for remaining on the farm,
approaches to place attachment and (iii) the diversity of nature’s contributions to people
provided by farm landscapes are used to try to explain both meanings and attachment to
place (Table A2).
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 21 of 25
Table A2. Questions, quotes and codes.
Examples of Responses
What do you like most about living
here on your farm?
What feelings or sensations do you
have about the farm?
What do you think about the place
where you live?
“I don’t know. I feel nostalgic when I work in the fields because I
remember my father, I imagine him working over there”
“The farm generates a feeling of tranquility, happiness to the soul and
“I am happy to see this beautiful place. The morning rises lightly and
perks up when you see the farm”
Responses were interpreted and
classified as different emotions that
emerged from the dialogue.
Reasons to remain
Do you like living on the farm?
Why do you remain on the farm?
“To live in the field because I don’t like to live in the city, because in
the city there are bad influences. I would not like to live in the city
because there is nothing to do there, I would only interfere with the
“Life in the city is very busy. Here in the field everything is peaceful, I
only worry about having my plants well and if I want a banana or a
mango, the land itself gives them to me”
Responses were interpreted and
classified as different reasons to
remain on the farm that emerged
from the dialogue.
What do you like most about living
on your farm?
What does the farm offer you?
”… I always like to be working the field”; “It is easier to educate
children in the field, neighbors take care of all children” (NCP code:
Learning and inspiration. NCP15);
“It is a calm and healthy life”; “The farm gives me tranquility” (NCP
code: Physical and psychological experiences. NCP 16);
“I consider myself a peasant of -pura cepa- and very proud, it’s my
rootedness “; “I like the farm because I was born there, it is a matter
of tradition” (NCP code: Supporting identities. NCP 17)
“You find everything on the farm. I like everything on the farm,
living on it because you live in peace” (NCP code: Maintenance of
options. NCP 18)
Responses were interpreted and
classified as different NCP that
emerged from the dialogue.
We use the framework developed
by Díaz et al. 2018
NCP1, habitat creation and
NCP3, regulation of air
NCP12, food and feed;
NCP15, learning and
NCP16, physical and
NCP17, supporting identities;
NCP18, maintenance of
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 22 of 25
Figure A1. ACM’s dimensions and percentage of explained variances.
Figure A2. Contribution of variables to dimension 1.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 23 of 25
Figure A3. Contribution of variables to dimension 2.
Figure A4. Contribution of variables to dimension 3.
Agriculture 2022, 12, 457 24 of 25
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