Understanding the provision and multidimensional benefit of ecosystem services and implications for natural resource management in Nigeria

What is the challenge?

Agricultural land and other natural resources in agricultural landscapes are important sources of ecological services and goods that the rural poor rely on. So far, limited empirical evidence exists to show how ecosystem services support multidimensional well-being of the rural poor in Africa. Very few peer-reviewed studies have assessed awareness levels and perceptions of ES in developing countries, especially for Africa, where the need to address sustainable ecosystem management and poverty alleviation is the most profound. This study provides a much-needed first assessment of Nigerian communities’ awareness and perceptions of ES provided by different land uses. It also probes deeply into the factors that affect levels of awareness, leading to a number of policy implications.

Beneficial insects provide important ES such as pest regulation, pollination and honey production. The flow of these services relies on agricultural management at the site and the functioning of the surrounding landscape determined by land use choices. This study adds to the evidence base regarding the role of landscape diversity in the provision of pest control service. Understanding the effect of landscape context on ES provision can inform land use decisions for enhanced ES and reduced agricultural externalities.

Key research questions

  • What is communities’ awareness and perceptions of ecosystem services provided by different land uses?
  • What is the role of diverse land use in the landscape in providing pest regulation service?

Basic information about the activity

The study was conducted across 12 states in Nigeria and covered three agro-ecological zones (AEZs). The field work was carried out at the end of 2012 and was linked to the midline survey of the “Nigeria Third National Fadama Development Project”, or in short “Fadama III project” (World Bank 2008). Starting from the Fadama III survey sample, we used a stratified sampling approach to select 12 states for the current study. Our sample comprised 851 households from 102 villages, with 34 in Humid Forest, 36 in Guinea Savannah, and 32 in Sudan Savannah. Village and household surveys were conducted in each selected village. Using primary data collected from the village survey, we assessed communities’ awareness, perceptions, and knowledge about a broad range of ecosystem services provided by different land use types. We also examined the key factors that explain the variations in awareness levels across communities, with a special focus on land uses within the landscape. Results show that exposure to forests was highly correlated with awareness. Using the household data, we examined the effects of landscape, local crop management, and social factors on pest severity and pesticide use in field crops. Initial results show that landscapes with higher proportion of forest land, unused land or residential land, as compared to cultivated land, have significantly lower pest problem. The findings offer new empirical evidence on the importance of landscape composition and local management in reducing agricultural dis-services (in terms of pest problems) or enhancing biological pest control services. Findings on the importance of social factors suggest that policies and IPM programs should target households of certain traits that affect their management and perceptions.


  • Nigeria: Nasarawa State University, Federal University of Agriculture, University of Ibadan
  • The Netherlands: Wageningen University


Documents and Project Tools

  • Village and household survey questionnaires
  • A field guide for insect pests, natural enemies, and pollinators in 15 main crops in Nigeria was developed to assist farmers in the identification of insect species.

This project is implemented under the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM)


World Bank. 2008. Nigeria - Third National Fadama Development (Fadama III) Project. Washington, DC: World Bank.


Wei Zhang, Research Fellow