Valuating and Modelling the Spatial Distribution of Ecosystem Services: Traditional Uses versus Commercial Logging
Ecosystem services derived from tropical plants sustain indigenous societies and make significant contributions to global economies. Often, multiple ecosystem services are obtained from the same plant species which introduces a potential for conflict, particularly between indigenous peoples and commercial loggers. Currently, conventional forest management regimes favor the logging perspective, overlooking indigenous peoples’ reliance on the forests. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of conceptual tools to value forests from indigenous peoples’ perspective. This research began the process of addressing the problem through three objectives. First, indices were developed, based on plant attributes, to compare a plant species’ value from indigenous peoples’ versus commercial loggers’ perspectives. Second, indigenous peoples’ influence on the distribution of ecosystem services were examined using physical environment and demographic variables that are associated with their presence. Third, the relative differences in the spatial distributions of subsistence and commercial logging ecosystem services at the village-level were examined. The analyses produced three findings. First, while there was a larger number of plants whose commercial logging values were greater compared to their subsistence values, at both the individual plant- and site-levels the mean subsistence values were higher than the mean logging values. Second, the influence of the human presence on the distributions of the subsistence and commercial logging services varied at both the landscape and village-levels. Third, modeling the relative differences between the subsistence and commercial logging values at the village-level revealed that some areas favored the presence of subsistence services whilst others were more suitable for the presence of logging services. The valuation and spatial tools developed in this research can be used to assist indigenous peoples in addressing resource use and spatial optimization challenges, especially when commercial loggers and conservation initiatives, such as United Nations Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program, have different perspectives on how forests should be used.