Local ecological knowledge reveals effects of policy-driven land use and cover change on beekeepers in Costa Rica uri icon

abstract

  • Land use and cover (LUC) change is a major driver of ecosystem service loss worldwide. In response, policy makers have designed conservation strategies that incentivize the establishment and maintenance of LUC types associated with higher ecosystem service provision. Many of these policies also aim to promote social and economic goals such as reducing poverty. Attempts to measure the impact of policy-driven LUC change on stakeholders typically focus only on economic outcomes for landowning participants or aggregate the socioeconomic outcomes of diverse groups. In this study, we applied local ecological knowledge (LEK) held by beekeepers in Costa Rica to understand the impact of policy-driven LUC change on this specific group of often non-landowning stakeholders. Beekeeping is a globally important rural livelihood and provides pollination services to crops and wild plants. We synthesized beekeeper LEK using a mixed-methods approach including apiary mapping exercises (n = 215 apiaries), questionnaires (n = 50 participants), and follow-up interviews (n = 21 participants). Our study revealed that some policy-driven LUC changes have limited beekeepers' access to preferred land uses, such as secondary and mature forests with native trees. Participants reported concern for their livelihoods due to policy-driven spatial and temporal change of floral resources via the establishment of tree plantations, changes in pasture management, and laws that prohibit beekeeping in national parks and reserves. Our study provides evidence of unintended outcomes from land use policies, including Payment for Ecosystem Services, with disproportionate negative impacts on non-landowning residents who depend on natural resources in the landscape for their livelihoods. Our study illustrates potential inequality rising from current incentive mechanisms associated with Payments for Ecosystem Services and other conservation policies and calls for policymakers to consider LUC change impacts on non-landowning stakeholders.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017