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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Defining Priority Land Covers that Secure the Livelihoods of Urban and Rural People in Ethiopia: a Case Study Based on Citizens' Preferences

Elbakidze, Marine;Gebrehiwot, Mersha;Angelstam, Per;Yamelynets, Taras;Surova, Diana;


Securing land management systems that maintain land covers is important for sustaining human livelihoods in Africa; however, simultaneously maintaining a viable natural environment is a serious challenge. Aggravated by rapid population growth and biodiversity loss, Ethiopia is an illustrative example of this issue. Stressing the need for a bottom-up stakeholder perspective, we identify and map land covers that deliver multiple ecosystem services that are important for the livelihoods of rural and urban citizens in the southern part of Ethiopia's Rift Valley. First, we interviewed 400 urban and rural residents to identify the land covers that deliver desired ecosystem services in three agroecological zones, representing a steep gradient in the livelihood conditions. Second, to support the inclusion of priority land covers in spatial planning, we located spatial concentrations of individual land covers providing bundles of desired ecosystem services. The majority of urban respondents selected homegarden agroforestry (92% of respondents from this group), freshwater lake (82%), river (70%), agroforestry shade-grown coffee (65%), natural old-growth forest (59%), rural settlement (52%), Afromontane undifferentiated forest (52%), and urban areas (73%) as important for their livelihood. In contrast, the majority of rural respondents selected three land covers: homegarden agroforestry (80% of respondents from this group), agroforestry shade-grown coffee (58%), and urban areas (65%). To maintain the identified natural and semi-natural priority land covers, at least two land management strategies are crucial to sustain the provision of ecosystem services for the livelihoods of both urban and rural people, and biodiversity conservation: (1) maintaining traditional agroforestry land-use practices, and (2) enhancing the protection and sustainable management of natural forest ecosystems. Additionally, integrated spatial planning is needed that considers both rural local community-based resource management that focuses on local needs for employment and products, and global demands to conserve biodiversity.


ecosystem services; sustainable livelihood; biodiversity; traditional land use

Published in


2018, volume: 10, number: 6, article number: 1701
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Sahilu, Mersha Gebrehiwot (Sahilu, Mersha Gebrehiwot)
Hawassa University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Yamelynets, Taras
Ivan Franko National University of Lviv
Surová, Diana
University of Evora

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
SDG8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

UKÄ Subject classification

Human Geography

Publication Identifiers


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