Environmental justice and ecosystem services: a disaggregated analysis of community access to forest benefits in Nepal

Sunita Chaudhary, Andrew McGregor, Donna Houston, Nakul Chettri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The concept of ecosystem services is influencing how environmental stakeholders pursue dual conservation and community development goals. While rapidly growing in popularity, the ecosystem services approach has been criticized for adopting a homogenous approach to communities and failing to consider social diversity and associated power structures influencing access to benefits. In this paper, we adopt an environmental justice lens to analyse access to ecosystem services in a case study of community forestry in Nepal. Using mixed methods, our disaggregated analysis shows that access to ecosystem services is differentiated by social characteristics such as caste, income and gender with uneven distributive outcomes and participation. High-income groups were able to disproportionately access the benefits despite the social equity provisions built into policy and institutional structures. Our study shows that some of the protections oriented at assisting disadvantaged groups were experienced as onerous and should be amended if they are to have beneficial outcomes. In highlighting entrenched inequities, we argue that the ecosystem services approach needs to make environmental justice more central to avoid further marginalising the marginalized, and have far and just outcomes. The current emphasis on aggregated analysis may contribute little to practically implementing programs that will contribute to sustainable socio-ecological wellbeing.

LanguageEnglish
Pages99-115
Number of pages17
JournalEcosystem Services
Volume29
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Fingerprint

Nepal
environmental justice
Social Justice
ecosystem service
ecosystem services
Ecosystem
justice
community
income
Organizational Policy
community forestry
social characteristics
Forestry
Social Planning
community development
social benefit
caste
Vulnerable Populations
Lens
Social Class

Keywords

  • Community-based forestry
  • Ecosystem services
  • Environmental justice
  • Nepal
  • Social differentiation

Cite this

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Environmental justice and ecosystem services : a disaggregated analysis of community access to forest benefits in Nepal. / Chaudhary, Sunita; McGregor, Andrew; Houston, Donna; Chettri, Nakul.

In: Ecosystem Services, Vol. 29, 01.02.2018, p. 99-115.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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