Perception and attitudes of local people concerning ecosystem services of culturally protected forests

H. Gao, Z. Ouyang, H. Zheng, B. Bluemling

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Culturally protected forests (CPFs) can be defined as forest areas preserved and managed by local people on the basis of traditional cultural practices and beliefs, and these forests have been maintained for decades or even centuries without much disturbance or change. Most of them are natural growth forests with well-developed vegetation, which gives them significant biodiversity value. Often, they do not only provide forest products and regulate water flows and micro-climate, but also show great cultural values to the local community. Semi-structured interview with key informants was used to investigate the attitude and perception of local community concerning about ecosystem services of CPFs in three villages in Southeast China. The sampling method was multi-stage stratified random sampling method, a total 152 questionnaires were available and the respondent rate was 98.7%. (1) We found that 81.6% respondents were satisfied with ecosystem services provided by CPFs. These ecosystem services seemed important to local residents which were the motivation of local community to protect the forests. Air improvement, conservation water and aesthetic value were considered important and satisfied with respondents. Ecotourism which was not so satisfied and aesthetic value were considered to be improved in the future. Besides, percentage of respondents prioritizing the services which they consider important had significant positive correlation with services they satisfied. This indicated the services they considered important have been protected better and provided services to villagers and human well-being. (2) CPFs preserve water, moisture soil, abate flood, clean air, and maintain traditional culture and aesthetic value, although providing timber are not the main aim. Only 26.3% respondents could get income from CPFs, particularly village with ecotourism for providing services for tourists. 40.6% respondents could get forests products, for instance, wild herb, mushrooms, bamboo and timber. However, 90.1% respondents could get forest products from other forests mainly for firewood and timber. (3) The enthusiasm of the villagers to protect the CPFs was high. 70.4% of the respondents were willing to manage (WTM) CPFs, and WTM was affected by distance to CPFs and family income through logistic regression. 38.9% of the respondents were willing to pay (WTP) to maintain the ecosystem services, and WTP was also affected by distance to CPFs and WTM. Willingness to pay for CPFs was lower than willingness to manage, because they are poor to maintain daily expense. Respondents who were not willing to pay tend to willing to manage, and the management frequency of men was higher than women. However, WTO and WTM had no significant relationship with age, satisfaction of CPFs, educational level, age and gender. (4) CPFs help to conserve the biodiversity and ecosystem services, and local communities are willing to manage and preserve the forests since they benefit from the ecosystem services especially cultural services. Thus, we recommend government to enhance the cognition of ecosystem services of CPFs to promote the protective ideas of villagers. Also, traditional knowledge and informal regulations are needed to be integrated into formal protection strategy. At last, other ways would dedicate to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, for instance: hire local males to manage the CPFs, make villages surrounded by CPFs. The management based on traditional belief and culture combined with informal regulation, which is not a panacea, will contribute to long term protective strategy of rural area
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-763
JournalActa Ecologica Sinica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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