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Local Community Perceptions on Landscape Change, Ecosystem Services, Climate Change, and Livelihoods in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe

Future Earth and Ecosystems Services Research Group, Department of Town and Regional Planning, Doornfontein Campus, University of Johannesburg, Beit Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, Gauteng, South Africa
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Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4610; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114610
Received: 28 April 2020 / Revised: 25 May 2020 / Accepted: 31 May 2020 / Published: 5 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
Understanding humanity’s relationship with nature is crucial for the well-being and sustainable development of mankind in the face of global environmental change. Communities depend on landscapes for survival and landscapes determine if sustainable development is to be achieved. The links between landscapes, ecosystem services, livelihoods, and climate change are often complex, misunderstood, and barely studied in rural areas of Africa, where communities live side-by-side with conservation areas. Our study surveyed the perception of the nexus of landscape change, climate change, ecosystem services, and livelihoods in Gonarezhou, a national park in southeastern Zimbabwe. We also used Landsat satellite imagery to map the landscape change over 20 years to validate and to correlate with the survey data. The survey results indicated that people relied on rainfed agriculture as a means of livelihood, but droughts as a result of climate change force communities to engage in other means of livelihoods such as small-scale poaching of small game such as impala and harvesting of natural resources such as edible shrubs. Crops and livestock as provisional ecosystem services have been negatively affected by climate change and landscape change. Landsat data confirmed that there was a negative transformation of the landscape as a result of agriculture, growth in settlements, and large herbivores. However, there was also a positive landscape transformation resulting from the conservation efforts by the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT). Cultural services about education and awareness of the environment and provisional services such as wild fruits are booming. Challenges such as soil erosion, human–wildlife conflict, and minimal community benefits from conservation efforts hindered sustainable development in the study area. While changes in landscape, climate, livelihoods, and ecosystem services happened at a local scale, the underlying drivers such as politics and the economy were also identified as drivers of landscape change. View Full-Text
Keywords: landscape change; ecosystem services; livelihoods; Gonarezhou; climate change and variability; Zimbabwe landscape change; ecosystem services; livelihoods; Gonarezhou; climate change and variability; Zimbabwe
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MDPI and ACS Style

Musakwa, W.; Mpofu, E.; Nyathi, N.A. Local Community Perceptions on Landscape Change, Ecosystem Services, Climate Change, and Livelihoods in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe. Sustainability 2020, 12, 4610. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114610

AMA Style

Musakwa W, Mpofu E, Nyathi NA. Local Community Perceptions on Landscape Change, Ecosystem Services, Climate Change, and Livelihoods in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe. Sustainability. 2020; 12(11):4610. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114610

Chicago/Turabian Style

Musakwa, Walter, Ephraim Mpofu, and Nesisa A. Nyathi 2020. "Local Community Perceptions on Landscape Change, Ecosystem Services, Climate Change, and Livelihoods in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe" Sustainability 12, no. 11: 4610. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114610

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