Ecosystem Services in Southern Africa: Current and Emerging Trends—A Bibliometric Review

Nesisa Analisa Nyathi, Walter Musakwa, Ruth Delzeit, Nikolaus J. Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The assessment of ecosystem services (ESs) is important for Africa’s sustainability and progress. Healthy ecosystems benefit humans in various forms; however, continuous anthropogenic activities have led to rapid alterations in their compositions, structures and functions worldwide. Due to the lack of understanding on the role of ES assessment in southern Africa, many ES assessment practices and methodologies have been widely debated Thus, a bibliometric analysis of ESs in southern Africa was conducted for the period of 1996–2021, to present the key features of ES assessment practices and methodologies and reveal evolutionary trends in this field. The results showed that in southern Africa, not many ES assessment studies have been published; however, South Africa was the most productive country in terms of author collaboration and publication output. Other leading countries in this field include the UK, USA, Germany and Australia. The most productive institutions in southern Africa are located in South Africa, and are the University of Cape Town, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Rhodes University, the University of KwaZulu Natal, and the University of Stellenbosch. The five funding institutions that are most active in supporting ES assessment in southern Africa are European. The main publishers of the research are either American or European and include the highly influential publishers Elsevier, Wiley, MDPI, Springer Nature and Resilience Alliance. VOS Viewer was employed as a visual analysis tool and CiteSpace as a graphic analysis tool to conduct the bibliometric analysis. A key conclusion is that most authors use qualitative methods to assess people’s livelihoods and wellbeing as they relate to provisional and cultural services, while remotely sensed imagery is used as a key tool to assess the spatial extent of provisional and regulating services. Research recommendations include promoting a transdisciplinary approach in ES assessment in southern Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number359
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • bibliometric analysis
  • ecosystem services
  • southern Africa
  • transdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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