Changing use of ecosystem services along a rural-urban continuum in the Indian Trans-Himalayas

Ranjini Murali*, Kulbushansingh Suryawanshi, Stephen Redpath, Harini Nagendra, Charudutt Mishra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Urbanization is changing the use of ecosystem services, especially in previously remote mountain areas in Asia, Africa, and South America that are now more accessible. Change in ES use is not uniform across society, but is impacted by socio-economic factors like income. We sought to understand changes in ES use along a gradient of urbanization, and as related to income differences along this gradient. Our study was conducted in Spiti Valley, a formerly remote region in the Indian trans-Himalayas that is undergoing urbanization. We employed household surveys and monetary valuation to assess use of local (wild plants, dung, wood, forage, water, fertilizer, barley) and imported (firewood and fertilizers) provisioning services. We used ANOVAs and ANCOVAs to test for differences in ES use with urbanization and income. We found that the use of local provisioning services decreased with urbanization, while that of imported provisioning services increased. In rural spaces, the use of local provisioning services did not change with income, while in small urban centres it increased with income. Across settlement types, imported ES use increased with income. Our findings highlight how ES use can change with relatively small amounts of urbanization. They also indicate that local provisioning services need to be made accessible not only to rural populations but also to those in relatively more urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101030
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date27 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank the Whitley Fund for Nature and the Wildlife Conservation Network for funding this study. We would also like to thank Sartaj Ghuman, Sanju, Thuktan, Kalzang Gurmet, and Tenzin Thilley for help with data collection. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript. Thank you to Ajay Krishnan for proof-reading the manuscript.

The Whitley Fund for Nature and the Wildlife Conservation Network provided financial support for this study. Neither of the funding sources had any involvement in designing the study, analysing the data, or writing up the manuscript.

Declaration of Competing Interest
The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


  • Provisioning services
  • Income
  • Indigenous community
  • Spiti Valley


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