Culture, Nature, and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services in Northern Namibia
Michael Schnegg, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Universität Hamburg
Robin Rieprich, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Universität Hamburg
Michael Pröpper, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Universität Hamburg
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Defining culture as shared knowledge, values, and practices, we introduce an anthropological concept of culture to the ecosystem-service debate. In doing so, we shift the focus from an analysis of culture as a residual category including recreational and aesthetic experiences to an analysis of processes that underlie the valuation of nature in general. The empirical analysis draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted along the Okavango River in northern Namibia to demonstrate which landscape units local populations value for which service(s). Results show that subjects perceive many places as providing multiple services and that most of their valuations of ecosystem services are culturally shared. We attribute this finding to common experiences and modes of activities within the cultural groups, and to the public nature of the valuation process.
concept of culture; ecosystem services; ethnography; landscapes, Namibia; valuation
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