Gleaning: beyond the subsistence narrative

Gleaning: beyond the subsistence narrative
Coastal resources are important for the wellbeing and livelihoods of people in coastal communities across the world but are used and valued differently by different people at different times. As such, managing coastal resources equitably requires understanding how and when different people value ecosystems. Gleaning is an important activity in many coastal communities. However, the values of gleaners, and women in general, are often left invisible in coastal ecosystem service assessments and rarely examined in different seasons. Here, we use an exploratory case study to elicit the seasonal values of gleaning to women in a coastal community through an in-depth mixed method case study in Timor-Leste. We found that women gave a variety of instrumental and relational reasons for gleaning and that gleaning values shifted across seasons. Notably, subsistence was not a priority for all gleaners. Instead, there were a diverse range of reasons perceived as important for gleaning including to socialise or to spend time in nature. Our findings highlight the need to move beyond oversimplified understandings of gleaning as simply a matter of meeting basic material needs. The diverse and seasonal value priorities of gleaners in our case study indicate the importance of socially and temporally disaggregated assessments of coastal ecosystem services that account for relational values to support more accurate depictions of coastal livelihoods and equitable management in coastal areas.
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