Land Use Preference for Ecosystem Services and Well-Being in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh

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Abstract

Researchers increasingly investigate ecosystem services to assess their role in supporting livelihoods, well-being and economic value in order to inform decision-making. Many studies have explored links between ecosystem services and community-based livelihoods, with a very narrow focus on the importance of land use to well-being. We evaluated the value of ecosystem services from various land uses supporting livelihoods and the overall well-being of local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. By applying a participatory habitat valuation approach with the ethnic communities from eight villages, we explored their preferences for, and perceptions of, ecosystem services and their sources in a multi-functional landscape under different land use, i.e., forest, swidden and low-land agriculture, fruit orchard and water bodies, and three land ownership contexts (state, private and mixed ownership on forest lands). Our findings revealed that community land use preference for ecosystem services supports ten different well-being needs. Among others, forests were valued land used for two-thirds of well-being needs, including the provision of shelter, nutrition, primary health care, an adequate supply of potable water, a lower level of ecological stress (i.e., protection from associated landslide soil erosion), cultural and spiritual benefits and livestock foraging. People commonly valued the food, income and nutrition contributions of all land uses. However, different forest and land ownership contexts and rights within the landscape influence people’s preference for ecosystem services from land use in supporting their well-being. People with secure ownership (i.e., private and private-community) showed a broad and positive appreciation for ecosystem services to meet their well-being needs. Our study highlights that local and ethnic people’s land-use preferences and ownership contexts are critical factors in assessing well-being in the context of multifunctional landscapes. We recommend that ecosystem services be considered in future decision-making related to forest and land use to support human well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2086
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalForests
Volume13
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2022

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