Plural valuation in southwestern Ethiopia: disaggregating values associated with ecosystems in a smallholder landscape.

Published online
17 Apr 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Brück, M. & Schultner, J. & Birhanu Bekele Negash & Dadi Feyisa Damu & Abson, D. J.
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Recognizing the diversity of preferences for, and values ascribed to, ecosystems in decision-making can help to realize more sustainable and equitable policies for transformative change. The goal of this paper was to assess how rankings of ecosystem products (i.e. their relative importance in people's lives) relate to people's individual characteristics, their social-ecological context and the values they ascribe to each ecosystem product. In our case study in southwestern Ethiopia, we considered 11 ecosystem products and four value types (direct use, exchange, relational, intrinsic). We used descriptive statistics, hierarchical clustering and chi-square tests of independence to analyse the data. On average, maize and teff were ranked as most important, and direct use and relational value were the most important value types. Beneficiaries often ascribed multiple values to each ecosystem product, and direct use and relational values better explained overall importance rankings than exchange or intrinsic values. Five groups of beneficiaries, who each prioritized a different set of ecosystem products, differed in their occupation, and in their social-ecological context, in terms of the villages they lived in and the ecosystem products they produced. Beneficiaries in each of the five groups ascribed different value types to their prioritized ecosystem products, and these did not always align with the value types that were generally judged most important by the group. We recommend that sustainable landscape management should reflect the diversity of people's value ascription, including non-exchange values.

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