Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits people obtain either directly or indirectly from ecological systems. They include provisioning services such as food, fuel and fiber; regulating services such as climate stabilization and flood control; and cultural services such as aesthetic views or recreational opportunities. More and more studies are underway to collect data on the ecological and socio-economic importance of wetland and freshwater goods and services. These studies concentrate primarily on commercial values with few mentioning freshwater ecosystem resources that are neglected and undervalued. As such, cultural ecosystem services need to be brought stronger to the forefront. The aim of this study is to identify, map, and quantify provisioning and cultural ecosystem services as perceived by local communities, and to analyze trade-offs and synergies among major provisioning, and cultural ecosystem services from Lake Nokoué, Benin. Participatory methods will be used to identify and value Lake Nokoué’s services and goods. Inclusion of ecosystem services in policy and decision making has been argued for depends on the availability of spatially explicit state knowledge and ecosystem patterns and their services. In this sense, this project will use both qualitative and quantitative research methods to analyse local communities ‘perceptions of provisioning, and cultural ecosystem services in the lake and identify the trade-offs in ES supply associated with lake management. Up to now, perceptions of local communities on the ecosystem services provided by the Lake Nokoué have not been entirely understood. This study is the first in Benin to assess cultural and provisioning ecosystem services from stakeholder perspective and to provide baseline information for their integration into decision making processes.
We provide a disciplinary and multidisciplinary research programme aimed at advanced understanding of environmental problems and advanced training of PhD candidates in this field.