Valuation of indirect use of benefits of woodland resources, case study : Hlabisa area, KwaZulu-Natal.
Many rural households in southern Africa rely on a range of woodland resources for their livelihoods. In addition to direct use values, rural households also obtain indirect use benefits from the woodlands resources. These include ecological services such as soil protection and nutrient cycling; and social values such as shade and aesthetic values. The value of woodland resources to rural households in southern Africa has been researched extensively. Most of these studies assess direct use values, which are expressed in monetary terms. In contrast, there are fewer studies that assess indirect use values of woodland resources, and even fewer studies that assess non-monetary values. Non-monetary valuation is important to add to the knowledge gained through monetary valuation studies. This study was undertaken as part of a national investment by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) on Sustainable Woodlands Utilization and Management in the country. The aim of this study was to establish monetary and non-monetary values associated with indirect use benefits of woodland resources in three rural villages in northern KwaZulu-Natal. A pilot study was undertaken to pre-test the data collection techniques before the main survey. The Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) were used to investigate monetary and non-monetary values during the pilot study. Data collection techniques involved interviews using semi structured questionnaires, direct observation, group discussions and resource mapping. The pilot study established that, due to its inherent properties, CVM was not the best method for this particular context (rural area in a developing country). In comparison, PRA techniques were more useful in obtaining meaningful data on the value of indirect-use benefits of woodlands. The main survey was undertaken using PRA techniques that included, in addition to the techniques used during the pilot study, contingent ranking. Interpretive categorization was used to analyze qualitative data. Quantitative data analysis involved the description of data, and results presented using descriptive statistics, tables and graphs. Excel spreadsheets were used for data storage and processing. The study established that rural households were acutely aware of the indirect-use benefits of woodland resources. Respondents were able to describe indirect use benefits in terms of social functions and ecological services provided by woodlands. Age, gender and remoteness of village seem to influence the value assigned to the identified woodland benefits. Ranking of the indirect use benefits revealed higher values for ecological services compared to social functions. Female respondents generally assigned greater values for both ecological and social services, compared to their male counterparts. All respondents concurred that the contribution that woodlands make to their livelihoods is Significant. The aim of the study was to investigate monetary and non-monetary values of indirect use benefits of woodland resources. The first part of the aim was not achieved, due to the incompatibility of the CVM to the study area (illiterate and semi-literate respondents in a rural setting). In terms of non-monetary values the study succeeded in demonstrating that rural households value woodland services highly, through their contribution to their livelihoods and well-being. The study concluded that the entire contribution of woodland resources to rural households is still not fully comprehended. To ensure the sustainability of woodland resources, the need to fully understand their contribution to rural livelihoods remains.