Scope for introducing payments for ecosystem services as a strategy to reduce deforestation in the Kilombero wetlands catchment area
Payment for Environmental or Ecosystem Services (PES) is among the tools for managing degraded ecosystems and their associated ecological and economic services. Wetlands are an important type of ecosystem, which are highly degradable and accordingly PES become relevant for the sustainable management of wetlands. In Tanzania deforestation in catchment forests has affected many wetlands so much that they cannot adequately contribute to quantity and quality supply of water throughout the year. This study uses consumption surveys and choice modelling to examine the values attached by communities in and around Kilombero Valley to the conservation of catchment trees as compared to the market price value of wood used for timber products in the wetlands. Results show that although conservation preference is generally positive among both rural and urban communities for the trees, the Willingness to Pay (WTP) for the rural dwellers is in proportion to approximately less than 1% of what they receive from the market. Again, the WTP for the rural communities is three times lower than that of the urban communities. These findings are important to policy makers and conservationists in making informed economic decisions on how PES schemes can be used to enhance sustainable management of wetlands.
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