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Enriching perspectives: experienced ecosystem services in rural Mozambique and the importance of a gendered livelihood approach to resist reductionist analyses of local culture

Juliana Porsani, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden
Lowe Börjeson, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, Sweden
Rickard Lalander, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden
Kari Lehtilä, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden
Angelina R. O. Martins, Department of Biological Sciences, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11781-250420

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Abstract

Based on a case study from rural Mozambique, we stress that ecosystem services research may be enriched through gendered livelihood approaches, particularly in terms of experienced ecosystem services. Ecosystem services studies have been accused of being gender blind. We argue for the value of open narratives that are attentive to the gender dynamics underpinning the production and reproduction of livelihoods. By focusing on the experienced gender dimension of ecosystem services, livelihood perspectives fulfill the normative role of providing a people-centered means to assess the values of the environment “from below” and can therefore constitute an entry point to a holistic understanding of by whom, how, when, and why the environment is experienced as valuable. Our findings stress the dynamism and plurality of experienced ecosystem services (i.e., they vary across groups and time and cross-cut material and immaterial dimensions), as well as the asymmetrical gendered and fundamentally cultural relations that they enable. Accounting for the experienced gender dimension of ecosystem services is critical to contextualize the environment in people’s lifeworlds and to make understandings of ecosystem services representative of, and instrumental to, people’s voices and agendas. We show how such enriched, diverse, bottom-up ecosystem services perspectives form an essential foundation (together with ecological research) for resisting applications of reductionist top-down categories assumed to represent general local values.

Key words

cultural embeddedness; experienced ecosystem services; gender; livelihoods; Mozambique; Nguava

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087