, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 159-182
Date: 04 Aug 2013

Contribution of forest provisioning ecosystem services to rural livelihoods in the Miombo woodlands of Zambia

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This paper examines the contribution of forest provisioning ecosystem services (FPES) to rural households and assesses the contributions of forests to the annual incomes of households in Africa’s Miombo woodlands. The study employed focus group meetings, in-depth interviews, and interviews of households, as stratified by wealth class and head of household gender in Copperbelt, Zambia. The results show that FPES are vitally important in providing food, medicine, fodder, and construction materials to rural livelihoods. FPES provided 43.9 % of the average household’s income and contributed a 10 % income equalisation effect among households, as revealed by the Gini-coefficient analysis. Poorer households received a lower mean annual income from forests than did their intermediate and wealthy counterparts, but in relative terms, forest income made the greatest contribution to the total household incomes of poor households. When stratified by gender, forests contributed 44.4 and 41.8 % of the income of male- and female-headed households, respectively. The study indicates that wealth, rather than gender, was the key determinant of a household’s engagement in the sale of FPES. The inter- and intra-community differentiation in the use and sale of FPES, as revealed in this study, enables more effective targeting of forest management interventions and informs efforts to reconcile the goals of poverty reduction and forest conservation.