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Stakeholder perceptions of ecosystem services of the Wami River and Estuary

Catherine G. McNally, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island; Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island
Arthur J. Gold, Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island
Richard B. Pollnac, Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island
Halima R. Kiwango, Tanzania National Parks.


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Management of riverine and coastal ecosystems warrants enhanced understanding of how different stakeholders perceive and depend upon different kinds of ecosystem services. Employing a mixed methods approach, this study compares and contrasts the use and perceptions of upstream residents, downstream residents, tourism officials, and conservation organizations regarding the value of 30 ecosystem services provided by the Wami River and its estuary in Tanzania, and investigates their perceptions of the main threats to this system. Our findings reveal that all of the stakeholder groups place a high value on the provision of domestic water, habitat for wild plants and animals, tourism, and erosion control, and a relatively low value on the prevention of saltwater intrusion, refuge from predators, spiritual fulfillment, nonrecreational hunting, and the provision of traditional medications and inorganic materials for construction. Differences emerge, however, between the groups in the value assigned to the conservation of riverine and estuarine fauna and the provision of raw materials for building and handicrafts. Declining fish populations and an increasing human population are identified by the residents and conservation employees, respectively, as their prime concerns regarding the future conditions of the Wami River and its estuary. These groups also acknowledge increasing salinity levels and the loss of mangroves as other key concerns. The identification of these mutual interests and shared concerns can help build common ground among stakeholders while the recognition of potential tensions can assist managers in balancing and reconciling the multiple needs and values of these different groups.

Key words

ecosystem services; stakeholders; values; Tanzania

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087