Measuring the economic value of wetland ecosystem services in Malawi: a case study of Lake Chiuta wetland
Economic valuation of wetland ecosystem goods and services aims to investigate public preferences for wetlands and the natural resources in monetary terms and it aids in quantifying the direct and indirect benefits that people derive from wetlands. Lake Chiuta wetland is the only second wetland to be valued in Malawi for ecosystem goods and services through this research. Valuation of Lake Chiuta wetland is an important step forward towards the economic valuation and conservation of wetlands in Malawi. The objectives for this study were to identify the current ecosystem services provided by the wetland, quantify the values of wetland resources (goods and services) and to determine the economic dependency on the wetland of the people living in the surrounding areas. In this study, the Total Economic Valuation approach was used which concentrated on direct and indirect use values of the wetland ecosystem services with more emphasis on direct use values. The Market Price technique was used to estimate the direct use value of wetland ecosystem goods and services and Contingent Valuation Method was used to solicit the willingness to pay for the conservation for biodiversity. The data were collected through focus group discussion, key informant interviews and the household survey as well as field investigations. The value of Lake Chiuta wetland was assessed in terms of Gross financial value (GFV), Net financial value (NFV) and cash income. The research findings have revealed that the contribution of the wetland to the surrounding communities has an estimated annual value of US$17.2M, which translate to US$554 per ha (GFV), and an annual per capita value of wetland economic benefits of US$248. The results show that fishing and crop production each contributes 75% and 23% respectively to the cash income of the households. Willingness to pay for the conservation of biodiversity was estimated at an annual aggregate of US$11M, which is lower than the GFV. The households living around Lake Chiuta depend on the wetland for socio economic livelihoods. The results indicate that the annual mean income per household is US$223 which is accrued through farming, fishing and harvests of wetland goods. There are no active community and government institutions in resource use and management of the wetland in Lake Chiuta, which make the wetland susceptible to over exploitation of the resources, thus putting at risk the availability of wetland resources for future generation and existence of the wetland. In view of the high value of economic benefits, the wetland provides to the communities living in the surrounding areas. It is important that the government, through key ministry (Ministry of Natural Resources & Climate Change) should set up the government institutions and facilitate the formation of a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme and the institution to manage resource use and management in the wetland.
Wetland Ecosystem Valuation Methods
Empirics of Wetland Valuation
GIS and Remote Sensing