Urban lakes, especially those of natural origin, provide ecosystem services, recreation being one of the most important and highly valued by city dwellers. Fulfilling the needs of city residents to relax and have contact with nature has become a priority in urbanized areas and has been proven to positively affect people’s health and well-being. The recreational potential of water bodies was identified to be the most important aspect of ecosystem services to the residents of the neighboring areas. An assessment of recreational ecosystem services (RES) provisioning to society based on the real time spent by the citizens and housing values in the urban–rural gradient revealed that the economic benefits of lakes differ in urbanized, suburban and rural landscapes. The growth of cities has led to an increased population density in the surroundings of ecologically valuable areas, resulting in higher pressure from visitors seeking recreational areas. Along with urbanization, the impoverishment of ecosystem functions takes place, limiting their capability to provide ecosystem services. In this work, the provisioning of recreational ecosystem services of 28 floodplain lakes located along the urban–rural gradient of the Warsaw agglomeration was assessed. The relationship between the ecological value of the water bodies, measured using naturalness indices, and the recreational ecosystem services they can provide was assessed. The results showed that the floodplain lakes located along the urban–rural gradient are of great importance to the citizens due to their recreational potential. The provisioning of recreational ecosystem services is poorly connected with the ecological characteristics of the floodplain lakes. Only hemeroby was significantly correlated with provisioning, and there was no relationship with factors such as naturalness of vegetation or water quality, demonstrating that public preference was not generally influenced by high ecological quality. These data should be available to potential buyers and be integrated in spatial planning management plans in order to shape future housing policy.
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