Water-Related ecosystem services and water quality: Farmers’ perceptions and practices
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Freshwater ecosystems provide numerous ecosystem services (ES) to humans. Agricultural pollution negatively impacts waterbodies and their capacity to provide ES. To reduce agricultural pollution it is crucial to understand farmers’ perceptions and the different factors that influence farmers’ decision-making. This thesis sought to understand farmers’ perceptions of water-related ES, climate change, and water quality, and to examine the role of these perceptions in influencing farmer decision-making related to farm water management. Map elicitation interviews were conducted with farmers in Musquodoboit Valley, Nova Scotia. Results suggest that farmers easily identified provisioning and cultural services, while regulating and supporting services were under-recognized. Farmers used management practices to maintain the ES they identified and to reduce disservices. Farmers had high climatic awareness, and some farmers understood the contribution of agriculture to water pollution. Farmers’ decision-making was influenced by their perception of ecosystem services and water quality. These results will inform agri-environmental programs.