Ecosystem service analysis in marginal agricultural lands: a case study in Belize

Geoffrey Wells, Neil Stuart, Peter Furley, Casey Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Globally, marginal lands, or less favored areas (LFAs), cover significant areas with large human populations, yet are relegated in policy making due to their perceived low agricultural value and a lack of information about other ecosystem services (ES) they may provide. Here we applied a simple, inclusive and qualitative ES inventory and Bayesian Belief Network modelling approach to a neo-tropical savanna LFA in Belize to assess its ES benefits, and potential trade-offs from future conversion to agriculture or a protected area. We found that consulting a broader selection of stakeholders elicited a more diverse range of ES, beyond the agricultural provisioning services considered in government planning. Further, the majority of the ES identified were accessed informally and so may be diminished under land use alternatives that formalize land tenure. We argue that, given the similar context of other LFAs, and the wider applicability of our technique, these findings have broader significance in the natural resource management and ES assessment field. Generally, we argue that simple qualitative ES analyses can efficiently provide useful planning information, and can assess how land use changes may impact local livelihoods. We argue that such methods can help improve natural resource management in LFAs and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date15 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jun 2018

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