Rivers provide a range of Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) such as aesthetic values, sense of place and inspiration, which remain insufficiently studied due to challenges associated with the assessment of their subjective and intangible attributes. However, the understanding of CES remains important as they are strongly linked to human wellbeing. This study utilizes a questionnaire-based survey to capture views from two villages along the mainstream of the Beas River in India, to identify the CES it provides, to assess how local communities appreciate their importance and how they relate to river flows. In total, 62 respondents were interviewed. Findings show that the Beas River provides several CES but among these, spiritual/religious ceremonies and rituals, aesthetic values and inspiration benefits were indicated as absolutely essential to the local communities. Results also demonstrate that people’s perception of the quality of CES is sometimes linked to river flows. It can be concluded that the Beas River is crucial in the functioning and livelihoods of local communities as it lies within the core of their cultural, religious and spiritual practices. This study reinforces the need to consider the full suite of ecosystem service categories in sustainable water resources development, planning and decision making.
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