5 years ago

An economic valuation of ecosystem services based on perceptions of rural Ethiopian communities

Ethiopia is facing severe land degradation resulting in a growing need to better understand ecosystem services (ES) and their importance for rural communities. We conducted focus group discussions in six rural communities in Ethiopia’s Oromia region to gather data on land use and livelihood trends over a timespan of three decades. We assessed the perception of local communities regarding the relevance of ES and economically quantified the perceived ES values that community members derive from forests, grasslands and croplands. Results show that between 2000 and 2013 the area under cropland increased by 12%, whereas forests and grasslands decreased by 8% and 7%, respectively. Between 1982 and 2013 the perceived loss of ES values summed up to 280US$/ha/y for forests, 79US$/ha/y for cropland, and 12US$/ha/y for grasslands. We assessed the total economic value (TEV) of each land-use type, with forests ranking the highest, followed by croplands and grasslands respectively. While community members value forests the highest with respect to intangible ES, forests also experienced the strongest decline in the perceived contribution to livelihood. High population growth rates are a strong indirect cause of deforestation driving the need for more farmland. We conclude that efforts for trans-sectoral policy development have to be made to harmonise land use policies, leading to long term sustainability.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S2212041617303972

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