Deteriorating quantity and quality of wetland ecosystem services is a major challenge for the conservation of the Lawuba wetland: socioeconomically the most important wetland area in Swaziland. In response, this study was designed to assess local dependent communities’ factual knowledge of the benefits and threats to the wetland, and their attitudes towards its conservation. In addition, the study employed environmental valuation techniques to estimate the annual economic value of the wetland’s fibre provisioning services and four notions of resource rent associated with the harvested fibre: rent on fibre consumed on site as a final product; and rent on fibre transported for 90 kilometres to Manzini market where it is sold, either as a final product or used as an intermediate input in the production of handicrafts. The fibre ecosystem service was specifically selected on account of its socioeconomic significance. Value of the fibre provisioning service was estimated using market price-based methods, while the magnitude of the different notions of resource rent was estimated using the net price method.
A random sample of 63 respondents was used to provide data on the benefits, threats, attitudes, and annual economic value which households attach to the harvested fibre. This sample also provided data used to compute the resource rent associated with fibre harvested and consumed on-site. A random sample of 5 respondents provided data used to compute the resource rent on fibre transported and sold in Manzini as a final consumption good. Finally, a random sample of 5 respondents provided data used to compute the resource rent on fibre manufactured at Lawuba and sold in Manzini. Households had high levels of knowledge of the benefits and threats to the Lawuba wetland. They also had positive attitudes towards its conservation. Chi-square and ANOVA tests rejected the null hypothesis of no association between household: (i) knowledge of the benefits derived from the wetland and income (F = 12.67, p = 0.000), (ii) knowledge of the threats endangering the wetland and education (χ2 = 38.474, p = 0.000), (iii) knowledge of the threats endangering the wetland and income (F = 7.25, p = 0.000), (iv) attitudes towards its conservation and income (F = 13.320, p = 0.000) and (v) attitudes towards its conservation and gender (χ2 = 11.854, p = 0.003). The value of fibre provisioning services was estimated at between US $20,310 and US $32,673 per annum, which translates to US $70 per capita per annum. Magnitude of the resource rent increased along the value chain as theory would predict. It was estimated at US $1.92 (for fibre harvested and consumed on site), US $2.27 (for fibre sold at Manzini as a final product), and US $18 (for fibre manufactured at Lawuba and sold in Manzini). Inasmuch as the study established a positive resource rent, no institutions currently exist for rent capture and appropriate re-investment to support sustainable wetland conservation. The study thus recommends the need to set up suitable resource management institutions.
Dissertation (MSc Agric)--University of Pretoria, 2014.