Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to identify dryland ecosystem service trade-offs under different rangeland land uses

N. Favretto*, L. C. Stringer, A. J. Dougill, M. Dallimer, J. S. Perkins, M. S. Reed, J. R. Atlhopheng, K. Mulale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Land degradation undermines ecosystem service provision, limiting economic returns from semi-arid rangelands. We apply a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to assess the value of ecosystem services, using monetary and non-monetary techniques in semi-arid rangelands in Kgalagadi District, southern Botswana. In doing so, we provide an empirical understanding of the linkages between policy, land use and the provision of ecosystem services based on the perspectives of local stakeholders identified through interviews and a workshop consultation. Findings suggest communal grazing provides the widest range of monetary and non-monetary values linked to ecosystem service delivery. Current economic incentives and policy initiatives supporting the livestock sector, linked to fencing and borehole drilling, create perverse incentives that over-emphasise commercial food production at the expense of other services. We identify a need for policy reforms to support livelihood diversification through the provision of a wider range of ecosystem services, and for further research to explore market opportunities for veld products and carbon trading. We show that MCDA offers a useful holistic assessment framework that could be applied more widely to semi-arid rangelands globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative , contract number 81163498 , and carried out under research permit number EWT 8/36/4xxv(60) of the Government of Botswana . We thank the staff of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) , United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and United Nations University (UNU) for their support, and particularly Emmanuelle Quillerou for her thoughtful comments on this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Kalahari
  • Land degradation
  • Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis
  • Southern Africa
  • Sustainable land management

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