Ecosystem Services

The subject of ecosystem services is fairly new in Zimbabwe. Ecosystem services are not fully captured in commercial markets or adequately quantified in terms of comparable with economic services, hence they are often given too little weight in policy decisions. The Information on the importance and value of ecosystem services as linked to human wellbeing is largely absent in Zimbabwe. In an attempt to address this information gap, BirdLife Zimbabwe conducted a pilot study on measuring and valuing ecosystem services in the Driefontein Grasslands IBA. The study used a Tool kit for Ecosystem Services Site-based Assessment (TESSA) which was tested for the first time in Zimbabwe. This toolkit measures climate regulation, water services, harvested wild goods, cultivated goods and nature based recreation. TESSA compares the ecosystem services at a site in “current state” with another in an “alternative” state. It can be used by non-experts at site level, and generate results that are essential in informing policy.

In Driefontein, three ecosystem services namely cultivated goods, harvested wild goods, and water services were assessed. The results showed that benefits from ecosystem services in the current (well managed) area are higher than those from a poorly managed area (alternative site). For instance, contribution of ecosystem services were valued at about US$1,364 and US$4,631 per hectare per year for maize and beans crops respectively in a current state, while for the alternative site contribution of ecosystem services were valued at about US$285 and US$2,923 for maize and beans respectively. The value of harvested wild goods showed a similar trend. This study also showed the importance of water services, with volumes ranging from 21 litres per household per day (domestic use) to 390 litres per household per day (livestock use) in the current state and 18 litres per household per day (domestic use) to 395 liters per day (livestock use) in the alternative state. Should resources become available, BirdLife Zimbabwe wishes to replicate this study to other IBAs in the country.

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