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Ongoing Research

SP08 - Interdisciplinary Cooperation

Translating ESF into ESS: on the way towards the interdisciplinary identification of indicators

In a series of two starting workshops, subproject SP8 is facilitating the interdisciplinary process of defining and framing the concepts of ecosystem functions and services in the TFO group. The need for a scenario building process was also clear and by identifying concrete steps and a team within the TFO members (including members of all subprojects and countries) the scenario building process was launched and will be coordinated by subproject SP 08. These consist of the first steps towards the integration of the work of the ecological and socio-economic subprojects (SPs). The following achievements were reached at the occasion of the two workshops:

TFO Braunschweig workshop in March 2011:
  • Initiation of a discussion on the concepts and modalities for data exchange
  • Reflexion on the concepts of Ecosystem Functions and Ecosystem Services, valuation, well-being, scenarios.
  • Identification of existing links, missing links and overlaps among the subprojects.
  • A preliminary list of Ecosystem services which can/will be investigated by TFO. As a major outcome, this workshop
TFO Maun workshop in October 2011 (Two slots in the program)
  • Integration of non-German partners in the discussion around the definition ESS and ESF and discussion around the preliminary list of ESS.
  • Initiation of the scenario building process with stakeholders and identification of a scenario building team
  • Identification of key types of ecosystem services: culture-related, goods from agriculture and pastoralism, soil and fertility, and water supply.

Pic. 1: Stephanie Domptail facilitating a discussion during the Braunschweig workshop, March 2011 (© Gröngröft 2011)

Pic. 2: Group work at the Braunschweig workshop, March 2011 (© Domptail 2011)


Subproject SP08 participated in the GLUES (Global Assessment of Land Use Dynamics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Ecosystem Services) workshops in Bonn/Bad Godesberg (November 2010) and Berlin (May 2011). Later, it communicated the implications arising from GLUES for the modeling of TFOs' land use scenarios towards the project (Presentation at Maun Workshop October 2011).

Cultural and socio-economic baseline survey

Interdisciplinary cooperation between the cultural and socio-economic subprojects (i.e. SP06, SP07, SP08) took place in the form of a jointly designed baseline survey, which will be applied to each of TFOs core sites by one of the three involved subprojects. The survey is computer based and consists of the exact same questions for all three core-sites.
Subproject SP08 has recently launched the survey in the Namibia core site, Mashare, in November 2011. Conducting the survey involved three steps. First, a pre-test was made on paper in September 2011.
Second, a training was organized to create a team for the interviews which must be conducted in the language of interviewed farming households. Third, a random sample of 300 households was taken and interviews started, amounting to a total of 90 to date (21 October 2011).

Pic. 3: Carlos Ribeiro giving a speech at the Maun workshop, October 2011 (© Kowalski 2011)
Subproject SP08 hired and trained three interviewers. The training included the through translation of the questions form English to Rukwangali; familiarizing with the questions, the structure, the aim and the concept of the survey; households counting in all wards of the core site; final computer-based pre-tests with the interviewers. It took a total of 2 weeks.

Interviewer training, pretests and household count

During the preparation of the baseline survey and especially during the interviewer training it became apparent that researchers and farmers of the Okavango had different understandings of some words/concepts. For instance, the word 'garden', which for local farmers refers to any irrigated horticultural area, was understood by researchers as a small plot near the houses, where medicinal, ornamental and eatable plants are grown. Similarly, the term 'income' includes goods obtained by bartering and not just cash income for the farmers, while this was not clear to the researchers. The same learning process took place among the researchers themselves.
Realizing the existence of different perceptions of the same concepts and words crucially improved the quality of the baseline survey.

Pic. 4: Interviewer training at the MITC, Mashare (© Kowalski 2011)

Preliminary findings concerning the Mashare core site

The Namibian core site consists of approximately 518 households, which are spread over seven villages and concentrated mainly along the gravel roads, with a minority situated next to the tar road. A high portion of the fields do not lie in the vicinity of the households, but in the forest between the two roads. As an example, Map 1 gives the locations of fields (brownish colored areas) and households (red dots) in the village Tjeye, which lies at the far western end of the core site.

Map 1: Tjeye Village and households in TFO Namibia core study site (© Domptail - created with Manifold)