Inequality and ecosystem services: The value and social distribution of Niger Delta wetland services
The Niger Delta wetlands are of international importance for their biodiversity, and support a large human population. The value and distribution of wetland ecosystem service benefits and costs across the three main stakeholder sectors (local community, government and corporate) were investigated. Results show that the net monetary value of the wetlands is $11,000 per delta household of which $9000 was generated as cash income supporting household activities such as education and healthcare. The total annual value of provisioning services to local people is approximately $25 billion, about three times the value of oil production in the region. However, local communities also bear about 75% of the environmental costs of oil extraction, equivalent to about 19% of the oil industry profit. Local people, who experience considerable economic hardship and lack alternative income sources, receive little compensation from the oil sector. These results highlight the importance of understanding not only the benefits provided by Niger Delta wetlands, but also the distribution of the environmental costs associated with their use. We conclude that ecosystem service valuation studies should give greater attention to the social distribution of identified values. Such distributional analyses, rarely available, provide insight into how sustainable natural resource management policy and practice could be better aligned to social justice concerns.