A combination of methods needed to assess the actual use of provisioning ecosystem services

Laura Vang Rasmussen, Ole Mertz, Andreas E. Christensen, Finn Danielsen, Neil Dawson, Pheang Xaydongvanh

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38 Citations (Scopus)
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Failure to recognize that potential provisioning ecosystem services are not necessarily collected and used by people may have important consequences for management of land and resources. Accounting for people's actual use of ecosystem services in decision making processes requires a robust methodological approach that goes beyond mapping the presence of ecosystem services. But no such universally accepted method exists, and there are several shortcomings of existing methods such as the application of land use/cover as a proxy for provisioning ecosystem service availability and surveys based on respondents' recall to assess people's collection of e.g. wild food. By combining four complementary methods and applying these to the shifting cultivation systems of Laos, we show how people’s actual use of ecosystem services from agricultural fields differs from ecosystem service availability. Our study is the first in Southeast Asia to combine plot monitoring, collection diaries, repeat interviews, and participant observation. By applying these multiple methods borrowed from anthropology and botany among other research domains, the study illustrates that no single method is sufficient on its own. It is of key importance for scientists to adopt methods that can account for both availability of various services and actual use of those services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date1 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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