Trends in ecosystem goods and services obtained from red panda habitats in north-western Nepal

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Abstract

The habitats of Nepal’s endangered red pandas provide ecosystem goods and services to surrounding human communities. Here, to help reduce pressure on the panda, we quantified the current use of the most important ecosystem goods and services obtained in and around a protected area in western Nepal, trends over the last 20 years, and factors driving those trends. Our results show that more ecosystem goods and services were sourced by communities living outside the protected area than inside except for fodder and bedding for animals, recreational activities and ecotourism. Incomes inside the protected area were higher than outside. Of the seven main services investigated (i) use of medicinal plants had increased but their availability had declined; (ii) bamboo use remained steady but less was available; (iii) there were no perceived trends in firewood use or availability; (iv) there was less transhumant pastoralism to upland pastures but pasture availability had declined; (v) less fodder and bedding for animals was collected inside the park than outside, but the availability was unchanged; (vi) use of sacred religious sites had declined inside but not outside the park; (vii) the reverse was true for recreational tourism. Direct drivers of change in ecosystem service provision included changes in weather patterns and fluctuations in the market for goods; indirect drivers were institutional governance and regulation, population growth, literacy, poverty, and infrastructure development. Policies that ensure sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services from panda habitats could improve local livelihoods, reduce natural resource degradation and help conserve the panda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-529
Number of pages16
JournalEcosystems and People
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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