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Rapid land use change threatens provisioning ecosystem services in miombo woodlands

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JournalNatural Resources Forum
DatePublished - 4 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish


Rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa rely upon provisioning ecosystem services (ES) to support their livelihoods, yet in areas where rapid land use change is occurring the relationship between environmental change, provisioning ES availability
and livelihoods is not fully understood. This relationship is explored here within a typical rural miombo woodland landscape
in south-west Tanzania, which is undergoing rapid land use change due to expanding tobacco cultivation. The types
of provisioning ES used, who uses them, changes in their availability, and the possible future impacts of these changes were
explored using a mixed-method approach. Our findings identify 19 provisioning ES used by households regardless of economic
status. Firewood, building materials, and fresh water are used by almost all households, and these are perceived to
be declining in availability. Households identified this as a negative environmental impact of land use change and that provisioning
ES loss would be ‘bad’ for their households. Given the multi-purpose nature of miombo woodlands, an adaptive
co-management approach, which can achieve multiple objectives through encouraging participation, learning, and empowerment
of local communities, could be an appropriate strategy to achieve sustainable land use management and maintain
the provision of ES within miombo woodland landscapes of sub-Saharan Africa.

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