Plural valuation in southwestern Ethiopia: Disaggregating values associated with ecosystems in a smallholder landscape

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Recognizing the diversity of preferences for, and values ascribed to, ecosystems in decision-making can help to realize more sustainable and equitable policies for transformative change. The goal of this paper was to assess how rankings of ecosystem products (i.e. their relative importance in people's lives) relate to people's individual characteristics, their social–ecological context and the values they ascribe to each ecosystem product. In our case study in southwestern Ethiopia, we considered 11 ecosystem products and four value types (direct use, exchange, relational, intrinsic). We used descriptive statistics, hierarchical clustering and chi-square tests of independence to analyse the data. On average, maize and teff were ranked as most important, and direct use and relational value were the most important value types. Beneficiaries often ascribed multiple values to each ecosystem product, and direct use and relational values better explained overall importance rankings than exchange or intrinsic values. Five groups of beneficiaries, who each prioritized a different set of ecosystem products, differed in their occupation, and in their social–ecological context, in terms of the villages they lived in and the ecosystem products they produced. Beneficiaries in each of the five groups ascribed different value types to their prioritized ecosystem products, and these did not always align with the value types that were generally judged most important by the group. We recommend that sustainable landscape management should reflect the diversity of people's value ascription, including non-exchange values. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)91-106
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 02.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the project ‘Towards a Sustainable Bioeconomy: A Scenario Analysis for the Jimma Coffee Landscape in Ethiopia’ (project number 031B0786). The BMBF provided funding and had no other involvement in this work.

We thank Marina Frietsch for support with pre‐testing data collection tools and with the data transfer, Hannah Wahler for support with pre‐testing data collection tools and Dula Wakassa Duguma for providing the study area map and his work on the social–ecological kebele groups. We are thankful to Elizabeth Law for statistics advice, and Jörn Fischer for helpful comments on an earlier draft. We thank the Zone Administration of Jimma for their permission to conduct the research and all participants for their collaboration. We acknowledge support by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. People and Nature published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.