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Disaggregating livelihood dependence on ecosystem services to inform land management

Robinson, Brian E., Zheng, Hua, Peng, Wenjia
Ecosystem services 2019 pp. 100902
ecological value, ecosystem services, ecosystems, households, issues and policy, land management, livelihood, rural areas, China
The direct links between ecosystem services and households’ well-being have long been discussed, but documentation remains sparse. This paper outlines a practical method for estimating the value of ecosystem services as they contribute to household livelihoods in rural regions. Measuring these links at the household level enables disaggregated assessment of how ecosystem services relate to household wellbeing. To demonstrate the method, we use household data from 1749 households in northern China to show how livelihoods depend on ecosystem services, focusing on the ES contributions to goods they sell or consume. We disaggregate the household-level value of ES across locations and to various beneficiary groups, which shows substantial variation in dependency on different types of services. These results have practical implications for land management strategies by safeguarding the most critical ecosystems and targeting management goals for beneficiaries. Organizations can use these methods to better inform policy design and understand who will win and lose from proposed programs.