THE EFFECT OF AGRICULTURAL INTENSIFICATION ON ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AROUND IHEMI CLUSTER
As the world population continue to increase, the demand for food also increases which necessitate the need for agricultural intensification. Agricultural intensification affects large parts of terrestrial area, therefore, assessment of its contribution to the decrease of ecosystem services is critical for successful conservation in the future. A study was conducted in five districts of Iringa and Njombe Regions, part of Ihemi cluster, to assess the effects of agricultural intensification on ecosystem services. A total of 607 household surveys and 19 Focus Groups discussions were conducted. Descriptive and cross tabulation were used for quantitative analysis while content analysis was used for qualitative data. Findings reveal that there are several benefits communities get from the ecosystem that play a great role on their livelihood. Across all villages, firewood is preferred due to its affordability and availability. Other ecosystems goods such as traditional medicine and mushrooms are hardly available due to clearing of land for agricultural activities, as well as settlement expansion. Community activities, such as valley bottom farming was mentioned as a practice that jeopardize the long-term sustainability of ecosystem resources within the Cluster. Agricultural intensification by investors was also mentioned as a sources of ecosystem depletion. Sustainable agricultural intensification, if adopted, might be one among the solutions to serve the ecosystem around the cluster.
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