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2015-10-16 | project

Assessment of dry-lands ecosystem services on Khomani San communal land and the possible implications

Identify and value ecosystem services found on the land belonging to the Khomani San – inside and outside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Our study aims to estimate the economic value (benefits) of protecting a dryland ecosystem in the park.

The local communities’ (Khomani San people) portions of the Park and their communal land produce ecosystem services. An interesting question is whether the local community are aware of the value of ecosystem services on the section of land belonging to them and the implication of these values? Thus this paper is concerned with identifying, assessing and valuing ecosystem services found on the section of land belonging to the Khomani San. Some of these services might benefit people who are not members of the land claimants’ community. It is on this basis that the beneficiaries of particular ecosystem services will be assessed. Should these services be proved to emanate from the restored land and that it benefits non-claimants, then it can be argued that there be setting up of a payment for ecosystem services scheme. Choice Experiment (CE) is an ideal method for valuing individual attributes of ecosystems, in addition to estimating the value of the environmental asset as a whole. The value of particular attributes can be used as a starting point in the negotiations about price between demanders and suppliers of the service. Setting-up of a payment scheme for ecosystem services by visitors for the benefit of locals is one possible alternative of demonstrating that these systems have a role to play in terms of community-based nature resource management. Without external beneficiaries, the value computed can be added to the value of resource extraction to derive a full natural income measure. 

The value of particular attributes can be used as a starting point in the negotiations about price between demanders and suppliers of the service. Should these service be proved to emanate from the restored land and that it benefits non-claimants, then it can be argued that there be setting up of a payment for ecosystem services scheme. With an increased focus on nature-based resource management and the need for payments for environmental goods and services, discussions on setting-up payment schemes for ecosystem services have intensified.

The reasons for rarely applying PES programs include the un-competitiveness of the market, equity concern in program design and the lack of information on benefits estimates. The payment for ecosystem services (PES) concept is expanding both in academic and in policy circles. Dedication of Ecological Economics and Environmental and Development Economics to PES is evidence of this expansion. Furthermore, the United States Department of Agriculture recently created an establishment of an Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets to aid create “new technical guidelines and science based methods to assess environmental service benefits which will in turn promote markets for ecosystem services including carbon trading to mitigate climate change” (Liu et al. 2010).

Without external beneficiaries, the value computed can be added to the value of resource extraction to derive a full natural income measure. This suggests that valuation of non-traded services enables the environmental services to be directly comparable to other traded goods and services in the markets. Thus, the policy implication of valuing environmental services is that when budget allocations are made, there can also be fairly considered by taking into consideration their costs and benefits. It is on this basis that valuation of these dryland ecosystem services makes it possible for them to be considered as economically productive systems comparable with other alternative land uses.

This study will provide stakeholders in the Kgalagadi arid area with much needed information on the potential benefits that the dryland ecosystem generates in terms of values that can potential accrue to the Khomani San people. Dryland ecosystems are productive, providing various services including biodiversity and recreational benefits.It is envisaged that by providing such useful information, policy makers can implement policies that strike a balance between sustainable resource use and poverty reduction.