Local perceptions of ecosystem services and human-induced degradation of lake Ziway in the Rift Valley region of Ethiopia.
Ecosystems supply beneficial contributions to people's quality of life and well-being. Freshwater lakes provide diverse consumptive and non-consumptive ecosystem services (ESs) to people. This study examined ecosystem goods and services that Lake Ziway in the Rift valley region of Ethiopia supply and identified the anthropogenic pressures that impact the lake and its services. The lake currently supports investment projects and livelihoods of the local communities. It contributes to the local and national economy from the export of cut flowers. The biggest commercial floriculture investment in the country is located on the shore of this lake, depending mainly on its water. Assessing the views and knowledge of local communities towards the contributions of ESs to human life, well-being, and livelihoods is important to protect and prolong the long-term benefits of ESs. A total of 41 experts, 137 households, and 20 discussants from two districts were selected for interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs). Pearson's Chi-square tests were used to test the association between dependent and independent variables. Multiple regression models were developed to examine the ESs of the lake and human impacts. The result showed that respondents prioritize the ESs of the lake as provisioning > supporting > cultural > regulating services. The Chi-square results revealed a strong association among ESs with respondents' type and residence locations. The multiple regression results revealed that respondents' types and residence locations were significant determinants in prioritizing the importance of ESs of Lake Ziway (p <.01). The degradation of Lake Ziway is increasing along with the increasing human population and increasing demands for provisioning services. The major anthropogenic activities are intensive water abstraction, pollution, overharvesting of resources, wetland conversion, and the introduction of invasive species. Such human activities are degrading the capacities of the lake ecosystem and its ecosystem service provisions. Our results indicate that understanding the links between these human pressures on Lake Ziway and its ES provisions is crucial for the sustainable management of the lake. The study could serve as a reference for decision-making for prioritizing the conservation measures needed towards ensuring the sustainable use of the various ecosystem services of the lake. Conservation interventions by involving local communities as major actors are needed to minimize human pressures and ensure the sustainability of the lake and its ESs.