SP6: Nature’s contributions to people in restoration landscapes in western Rwanda

Tobias Plieninger

Laura Kmoch 

Gaelle Ndayizeye

Synergies, trade-offs, and bundles of multiple ecosystem services tend to shift where restoration activities take place. These social-ecological outcomes, and the varied interactions of values, rules and knowledge (VRK) that underpin stakeholders’ land-use decision making need to be understood to mediate conflicts and realise successful restoration projects. Yet, multiple challenges of using the ecosystem services framework in a restoration context remain. The field therefore currently adopts more inclusive perspectives, most prominently the Nature’s Contributions to People (NCP) assessment framework. New and often participatory sociocultural valuation methods, including Public Participation GIS are rapidly developing; and power relations that mediate the access, use and management of ecosystem services gain increased attention. Against this background, subproject six aims to assess the multiple tangible and intangible benefits that people attribute to ecosystems in restoration landscapes, and to appraise in how far local and distant actors’ plural VRK shape and govern NCP outcomes.

Through research in three work packages (WP), we will develop NCP assessment approaches from three different perspectives: an ecosystem perspective, a landscape perspective, and a cross-scale perspective. WP1 will compare NCP outcomes across contrasting types of ecosystem restoration and for different stakeholder groups. WP2 will map local people’s NCP related values, rules and knowledge in landscapes where ecosystem restoration takes place. WP3 will appraise how flows of VRK link actors in Europe, North America, and Rwanda’s urban centres to the country’s rural restoration sites, and shape local residents’ NCP-related decision-making space. We hypothesize that (i) more diversified forms of ecosystem restoration will lead to higher and broader levels of NCP supplied; that (ii) restored ecosystems overlap spatially with hotspots of landscape values, strong formal and informal rules, and multiple knowledge types that shape NCP outcomes; and that (iii) distal phenomena (through telecouplings) influence the establishment and social-ecological outcomes of restoration in Rwanda. In close cooperation with two Rwandan partners, the subproject offers opportunities for one postdoctoral researcher and one PhD candidate to further their academic qualifications in the field of social-ecological restoration research. Our analysis will draw on two consecutive household surveys (n=600 and n=300 respondents from 50 villages), to be realised in close collaboration with SP5, and on original data from in-depths interviews, focus group discussions, stakeholder workshops, participatory mapping and photo voice research. As rural people’s access to NCP, and their governance through VRK constellations, are often highly gendered, our work programme places emphasis on gender-differentiated data collection strategies in WP1, WP2 and WP3.