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Assessment of spatial ecosystem services value for identification of suitable areas for REDD+ based on local perception: Ejisu-Juaben district, Ghana

Asamoah, George (2013) Assessment of spatial ecosystem services value for identification of suitable areas for REDD+ based on local perception: Ejisu-Juaben district, Ghana.

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Abstract:Benefits from ecosystem services may be identified and achieved through their quantification and valuation. Valuation is important since it increases awareness among communities of the value of services and enhance the basis for communities and decision makers to protect and conserve areas that have high value for ecosystem services. Valuation also helps to identify areas of loss of key services to communities through deforestation and propose locations where REDD+ could contribute its multiple benefits to rural livelihood. The natural ecosystem in the Ejisu-Juaben district of Ghana is made up of forests, water bodies, minerals, plants and animals. However, the past two decades have seen severe threats on resources arising out of expansion of agricultural activities, excessive lumbering, mining, bush burning, sand winning and rapid conversion of forest lands to residential buildings. These have impacted negatively on the effective provision of ecosystem services to people in this area. The objective of the study was to assess the spatial ecosystem services value for identification of suitable areas where REDD+ could actively support livelihoods. The study used Participatory Geographic information systems (PGIS) as a tool in valuing ecosystem services in the Ejisu-Juaben districts of Ghana. Valuation was carried out based on the construction preference method that sought to assign values to ecosystem services and places where the 3 communities collect these services. The most important ecosystem services listed by both low and high income groups in all 3 study communities were mushroom, medicinal plants, bush meat, snails, honey, food (fruits), fuel wood, water and cane. In general, the groups assigned different weights according to the ecosystem services they collect in their respective communities and viewed these as crucial to their livelihood. The results also indicated that forest holds lots of the key ecosystem services followed by fallow, farmland and grass. Low income group use the ecosystem services more for commercial purposes and less for domestic usage across the 3 study communities in contrast to the high income groups, who use more for domestic purposes than for commercial purposes. The result mean that the low income groups’ livelihoods depend more on income generated from selling the ecosystem services whilst the high income groups may have other alternative sources of income in addition to the ecosystem services provision. The study found variations in spatial distribution of the ecosystem services across all 3 study communities. High values areas provide large quantity of ecosystem services and low values areas provide least quantity of ecosystem services. The result of the accessibility analyses show that influence of land cover, road infrastructure and slope contribute to how the local people locate and access these ecosystem services. Accessibility was classified as highly accessible, accessible, low access and least access. The vegetation types that hold these ecosystem services are randomly located relative to accessibility because some vegetation types provide abundant ecosystem services in both accessible and inaccessible areas. The lower usefulness and values the locals attached to less accessible areas may be attributed to some physical barriers including rivers or water logged areas and high slope areas. The local people maximise access to and optimise use of ecosystem services in locations close to them and some choose to harvest in inaccessible areas. High values areas attract more direct access to the ecosystem services and are potential for holding large ecosystem services, high carbon stock and other biodiversity stock. These high values areas are suitable for REDD+ implementation programmes because it can contribute multiple benefits to rural livelihoods in the form of financial incentives through carbon credits as a result of conserving biodiversity and carbon storage whilst promoting sustainable use of resources. Low values areas that coincide with high carbon was categorised as a high risk area because tress are cut for firewood and charcoal. These low value areas are suitable for REDD+ implementation programmes because it can mitigate deforestation and offer financial incentives to alleviate poverty through plantation development in fallow and grass lands areas and in the long run benefit from future carbon sequestration. Key words: Ecosystem services, Participatory GIS, REDD+, Valuation
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
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