How do individuals and groups perceive wetland functioning? Fuzzy cognitive mapping of wetland perceptions in Uganda
Wetlands are critical natural resources around the globe, providing many direct and indirect benefits to local communities. However, wetland degradation and conversion to other land uses are widespread. Sustainable wetland management requires an understanding of stakeholders’ perceptions of the ecosystem and its management. This paper uses fuzzy cognitive mapping to capture individual stakeholder perceptions and group knowledge of wetland ecosystems in order to assess areas of consensus and opposing interests between different stakeholders and to develop future management scenarios. For this purpose, the Rushebeya-Kanyabaha wetland, which is one of the few wetlands in southwest Uganda that is still largely intact, is used as a case study. Our findings reveal differences in perceptions between different resource users. Papyrus harvesters, beekeepers, fishermen, wetland non-users, and hunters associate the largest livelihood benefits with a wetland conservation scenario, while farmers and government officials perceive increased agricultural production in the wetland area to be more livelihood enhancing. This poses a challenge to sustainable wetland management. The scenario results also suggest that centralized top-down laws and rules on wetland use are not sufficient for maintaining the wetland ecosystem. Therefore, there is a need to develop shared understanding through bottom-up approaches to wetland management that are nested within national regulatory frameworks, ideally combined with awareness building and knowledge sharing on the ecological benefits of the wetland.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Land Use Policy
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available after the end of the 12 month embargo period under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/