Perceptions of ecosystem services and knowledge of sustainable development goals around community and private wetlands users in a rapidly growing city

Landscape and Urban Planning,

Abstract

Urban wetlands are well-known to provide multiple ecosystem services and are essential for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The management practices of local institutions are strongly influential on the sustainability outcomes of urban wetlands, yet the beliefs and value systems underlying distinct management approaches have not been studied thoroughly. Therefore, this study aims to elucidate the perceptions of local stakeholders regarding the ecosystem services provided by urban wetlands, their linkages to the SDGs, and pertinent threats to the wetlands, to reveal the connections between local awareness and sustainable management practices. Using the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) in India as a case study, we used a mixed-method approach to interview 120 local stakeholders associated with two differentially managed wetland systems – community and private. Our results demonstrate that the community wetlands are more socially inclusive in nature than the private wetlands. The private users emphasized economic benefits and livelihood security above all, whereas the community users strongly valued diverse provisioning services and cultural services in addition to the livelihood security. Further, community users identified a greater number of ecosystem services as contributing toward the SDGs relative to private users. We suggest that sustainable development strategies consult and incorporate the perceptions of local community wetland management groups, as these management practices are rooted in more comprehensive value systems and are more aligned with sustainable outcomes. These insights reveal the importance of local awareness of ecosystem services, and may be of value to urban planners and policymakers working toward sustainable urban management.

Authors: Sukanya Basu, Harini Nagendra, Peter Verburg, Tobias Plieninger