Cultural ecosystem services, perceptions and participatory mapping: a case study of Buffellsdraai and Iqadi communities in eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.
Kunene, Hlengiwe Precious.
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As the demand for Ecosystem Services (ES) continues to grow, the assessment of ES has become important for conservation management. However when compared to other ES, Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) have been rarely integrated into ES assessments. As a result, research on this particular category of ES is necessary as trade-offs between all types of ES exist. This study assessed the perceived CES in Buffellsdraai and Iqadi communities in KwaZulu-Natal by performing a spatially explicit mapping of these services. These particular communities were chosen because of the two major reforestation projects being carried out within their jurisdiction so as to understand how ecological restoration improves their cultural well-being.Triangulation which is a combination of both quantitative and qualitative methodology was used to assess local community and key informant perceptions of CES as well as to determine the spatial variation of these services in Buffellsdraai and Iqadi. The structured questionnaire survery, participatory rural appraisal (PRA) exercises, focus group discussions were administered to community participants while the structured questionnaire was employed to collect data from key informants of Buffellsdraai and Iqadi, respectively. CES were identified in both Buffellsdraai and Iqadi communities. Landscape value was identified as the most valued category of CES in both communities. Despite most key informants residing within the communities of Buffellsdraai and Iqadi they showed little interest on the CES subject matter. With the aid of spatial data from the participatory mapping exercices, the study also identified the hotspots and coldspots of CES in both study areas. Hot spots were mainly attributed to landcovers such as forests, bushlands and water bodies while built up dense settlement, grassland and woodlands were hardly attributed to any cultural values thus forming cold spots of CES. The results from this study revealed a vital relationship between the locals and landscape of Buffellsdraai and Iqadi. The locals portrayed a keen interest with interacting with nature which in turn will contribute to maintenance of these landscapes. On this basis, this study proposes the incorporation of CES into ES planning decisions of the eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu Natal.