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Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability

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  • Robert B. Richardson

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    (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, 131 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA)

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    Abstract

    Food security in developing countries depends in part on the sustainable use of natural resources. Food security is usually examined through three dimensions, namely the availability, access, and utilization of food. Ecosystems directly and indirectly support each of these dimensions through the provision of critical ecosystem services that facilitate agricultural production, create income-generating opportunities, and provide energy for cooking. However, in some cases, household uses of natural resources undermine particular elements of food security, hindering national poverty reduction strategies and threatening the sustainability of critical ecosystem functions. I examine the role of ecosystem services in rural food security through the lens of its three dimensions, and highlight the tensions that stem from household-level interactions and uses. In some cases, uses of resources and services that support the access and utilization dimensions may undermine the ecosystem functions that support food availability. The conclusions underscore the importance for the integration of ecosystem services into food security plans and poverty reduction strategies in developing countries.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 11 (November)
    Pages: 3520-3548

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:11:p:3520-3548:d:10250

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    Web page: http://www.mdpi.com/

    Related research

    Keywords: food security; ecosystem services; environmental sustainability; international development;

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    References

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    1. Jayne, Thomas S. & Yamano, Takashi & Weber, Michael T. & Tschirley, David L. & Benfica, Rui M.S. & Neven, David & Chapoto, Antony & Zulu, Ballard, 2002. "Smallholder Income And Land Distribution In Africa: Implications For Poverty Reduction Strategies," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19692, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Shackleton, Charlie M. & Shackleton, Sheona E., 2006. "Household wealth status and natural resource use in the Kat River valley, South Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 306-317, May.
    3. Barrett, C. B. & Reardon, T. & Webb, P., 2001. "Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: concepts, dynamics, and policy implications," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 315-331, August.
    4. Loomis, John & Kent, Paula & Strange, Liz & Fausch, Kurt & Covich, Alan, 2000. "Measuring the total economic value of restoring ecosystem services in an impaired river basin: results from a contingent valuation survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 103-117, April.
    5. Farber, Stephen C. & Costanza, Robert & Wilson, Matthew A., 2002. "Economic and ecological concepts for valuing ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 375-392, June.
    6. de Groot, Rudolf S. & Wilson, Matthew A. & Boumans, Roelof M. J., 2002. "A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 393-408, June.
    7. Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. & Sills, Erin O. & Kramer, Randall A., 2004. "Seeing the forest for the fuel," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 155-179, May.
    8. Fernandez, Ana & Richardson, Robert B. & Tschirley, David L. & Tembo, Gelson, 2009. "Wildlife Conservation in Zambia: Impacts on Rural Household Welfare," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 55053, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    9. Fisher, Monica, 2004. "Household welfare and forest dependence in Southern Malawi," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(02), pages 135-154, May.
    10. Reardon, Thomas, 1997. "Using evidence of household income diversification to inform study of the rural nonfarm labor market in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 735-747, May.
    11. Richardson, Robert B. & Fernandez, Ana & Tschirley, David & Tembo, Gelson, 2012. "Wildlife Conservation in Zambia: Impacts on Rural Household Welfare," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 1068-1081.
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    Cited by:
    1. Mulenga, Brian P. & Richardson, Robert B. & Tembo, Gelson, 2012. "Non-Timber Forest Products and Rural Poverty Alleviation in Zambia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 123220, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.

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