Social valuation of wetlands: A case study of Intunjambili Wetland in Matobo District, Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe
MetadataShow full item record
Wetlands have been described as “the kidneys of the landscape, and as “biological supermarkets”. However, more than half of the world`s wetlands have been lost and/or degraded. This has caused alteration of vegetation, biodiversity and productivity in wetlands. Understanding local people’s social values of wetlands and traditional mechanisms of managing natural resources forms the basis of conserving them. This study reviews the social valuation of functions and services provided by wetlands. The main objective of this study was to come up with a social value for Intunjambili wetland, which is located in Matobo district of Matabeleland South Province (South East of Bulawayo) in Zimbabwe.The study specifically sought to: i) map the extent of Intunjambili wetland and its Land Use/Land Cover (LULC) of 1980 and 2015; ii) assess the ability of Intunjambili wetland to deliver particular wetland services; iii) identify resource use behavior of households in Intunjambili wetland; and iv) determine the value of Intunjambili wetland services. The extent of Intunjambili wetland and LULC change was sought through a comparison of images from GIS and maps drawn by the local communities. The results from the mapping exercise indicated that vegetation cover has decreased over time and land uses have changed. A rapid assessment of the mapped area using the WET EcoServices Assessment tool was conducted to assess Intunjambili wetland ability to deliver the eight selected services. From the eight functions assessed, results showed a rank in the following order from high to low potential respectively: provision of water supply for direct human use, provision of harvestable natural resources, education and research, provision of cultivated foods, stream flow regulation, tourism and recreation, cultural significance and maintenance of biodiversity. A household survey and focus group discussions were also conducted with an aim to determine resource use behavior of households and the value of these uses. These indicated a variation in resource use behaviour. Those that live on the wetland, value the wetland for the provision of water which sustains the livelihood of vegetable gardening whilst those that do not live on the wetland, value the wetland for the provision of water for their livestock, grazing land for their livestockand natural resources. Results from this study indicated that the wetland is being highly used for agriculture; it is gradually degrading and soon will not be unable to sustain its functions it is currently offering.This study recommends the application of the ecosystem approach will help to reach a balance of conservation; sustainable use; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of the wetland resources.