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Restoring the forest revives our culture: Ecosystem services and values for ecological restoration across the rural-urban nexus in South Africa

Constant, Natasha and Taylor, Peter John 2020. Restoring the forest revives our culture: Ecosystem services and values for ecological restoration across the rural-urban nexus in South Africa. Forest Policy and Economics 118 , 102222. 10.1016/j.forpol.2020.102222
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The integration of indigenous viewpoints in Ecosystem Service frameworks and planning processes are often lacking, necessitating a need to integrate diverse perspectives for knowledge coproduction. The study adopts a comparative analysis to explore local perceptions of the diversity of forest ecosystem services and values for ecological restoration among urban and rural Vhavenda groups in the Vhembe District of South Africa. We apply the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) framework to structure ecosystem services to explore how well indigenous perspectives are represented. Rural populations identified the provisioning services of forests as more important compared to urban populations to support subsistence lifestyles with a higher dependence on natural resources. Rural values for ecological restoration were dominated by biocultural restoration objectives to revive indigenous knowledge and local practices and inter-generational learning experiences. Trade-offs exist among urban groups where forests are valued for employment and tourism and rural groups where intangible values are associated with the spiritual importance of sacred forests. However, commonalities between rural and urban residents persist with collective objectives to restore biodiversity and ecosystem services, enhance collaborations between stakeholders and stimulate education experiences that draw on indigenous and scientific knowledge of forest ecosystems. Our study points to the challenges of ecosystem service valuation and considers the importance of integrating stakeholder values for informing deliberative decision-making.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
ISSN: 1389-9341
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 26 May 2020
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2021 15:03

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