Forest-based ecosystem services (ES) play a vital role in improving people’s livelihoods, the environment, and the economy. Prior studies have focused on technical aspects of economic valuation such as biophysical quantification through modeling and mapping, or monetary valuation, while little attention has been paid to the social dimensions. Taking case studies of two dominant community-based forest management systems (community forestry—CF and collaborative forestry—CFM) in the Chure
region of Nepal, we investigate how local users and other stakeholders perceive the valuation of forest-based ecosystem services based on proximity (nearby vs. distant users), socio-economic class (rich vs. poor users), and forest management modalities (CF vs. CFM). We found that local users and other stakeholders in the Chure
region identified a total of 42 forest-based ecosystem services: 16 provisioning, 15 regulating, and 11 cultural services. While all local users prioritised firewood, water quality improvement, and bequest values as the top three services, genetic resources, hazard protection, and hunting services were valued as having the lowest priority. The priorities placed on other services varied in many respects. For instance, rich users living near a CF showed a strong preference for fodder, grasses, and soil conservation services whereas users living far from forests prioritised timber, fresh water, and flood control services. In the case of CFM, rich users adjacent to forests preferred timber, soil conservation, and carbon sequestration services but those living far from forests chose timber, poles, and flood control as their top priorities. Differences in rankings also occurred among the regional managers, national experts, and forest users. The reasons for these differences and their policy implications are discussed, and ways of reaching consensus between the users are suggested.
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