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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Local ecosystem service use and assessment vary with socio-ecological conditions: A case of native coffee-forests in southwestern Ethiopia

  • Author(s): Tadesse, G
  • Zavaleta, E
  • Shennan, C
  • Fitzsimmons, M
  • et al.

© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York. Ecosystem-based management requires the promotion and integration of locally relevant ecosystem services. This needs an understanding of which ecosystem services local people value and how local valuation varies with socio-cultural and market factors. We convened ten focus group discussions and performed 105 household surveys from major indigenous groups and recent settlers about local values of various forest-based ecosystem services in changing landscapes of southwest Ethiopia. We found that the extent of ecosystem service use and assessment depends on socio-cultural background and gender of the informants, as well as income and cultural contributions of these services. Ecosystem service values vary in space and time where local people reported that they increasingly value services as they become scarce or in response to increased demands due to emerging markets or changes in production systems. Local people mostly appreciated a few services of high market value while most ecosystem services are not traded in local markets and hence not highly valued. Some low-rated ecosystem services such as fodder and medicinal plants were nonetheless widely used demonstrating the need to also conserve low rated ecosystem services that are used universally. We suggest promoting socio-cultural and other non-marketable ecosystem services to reduce the over-exploitation or exclusion of specific biodiversity components in conservation activities.

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