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Valuing the Provisioning Services of Wetlands: Contrasting a Rural Wetland in Lesotho with a Peri-Urban Wetland in South Africa

Kathryn S. M. Lannas, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town
Jane K Turpie, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town

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Abstract

Given that few studies have valued the provisioning services of temperate southern African wetlands, research on this topic was undertaken in a remote rural wetland, Letseng-la-Letsie, in Lesotho and a peri-urban wetland in Mfuleni, Cape Town. The objectives were to quantify incomes from wetland resources, assess the relative dependency of communities on wetland provisioning services, and estimate the total provisioning value of the wetlands. Data were collected from informal interviews and structured household surveys. Despite the different settings, both wetlands were used mainly for grazing livestock. The estimated total value added during 2007 from grazing was U.S. $180,078 for Letseng-la-Letsie and U.S. $540,286 for Mfuleni. Letseng-la-Letsie and Mfuleni were also used for hunting, and Mfuleni was partially cultivated. Even though the local wetlands were easier to access from Mfuleni, only 13% of households used them, compared with 65% in Letseng-la-Letsie. However, the households around Letseng-la-Letsie derived less of their income (6%) from the wetlands, compared with 82% in Mfuleni. This reflects the more specialized livelihood strategies in the urban compared with the rural setting, in which risk-spreading household production strategies were more prevalent. The loss of the wetland in Letseng-la-Letsie would therefore potentially affect more people but have less of an effect on the finances of individual households than in Mfuleni. It is estimated that U.S. $220/ha and U.S.$1765/ha is derived annually from wetland provisioning services in Letseng-la-Letsie and Mfuleni, respectively. A standard protocol is needed for valuing wetlands in southern Africa.

Key words

wetlands; provisioning services; dependency; livelihoods; grazing; Lesotho; South Africa; peri-urban areas
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087