Ecosystem services, wellbeing and justice: developing tools for research and development practice
This project built on ESPA-funded ‘Just Ecosystem Management’ research which reveals how much justice matters when it comes to the contribution of ecosystem services to people’s wellbeing. Justice (or lack of it) guides how ecosystems are managed and the way in which costs and benefits are distributed. Furthermore, the different values held by individuals and groups relating to justice have an influence on behaviour and, ultimately, the sustainability of environmental interventions. The project conducted in-depth fieldwork in and around Nam Et Phou Loey National Protected Area, northeast Laos, a mountainous tropical forest ecosystem of great biodiversity value, but also with high poverty levels and multiple forms of ecosystem management interventions.
This project integrated expertise in natural and social sciences to assess ecosystem services, wellbeing and justice from the perspective of local inhabitants, revealing several important issues affecting their lives, particularly for poor and marginalised people in the face of rapid social and economic change. The project team used its experience in designing participatory methods to develop, with development practitioners, practical tools for integrating justice into ecosystem services research and ecosystem management.