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Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: A review of the empirical links


  • Suich, Helen
  • Howe, Caroline
  • Mace, Georgina


We present the results of a review of the empirical evidence and of the state of knowledge regarding the mechanisms linking ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. The review was undertaken to determine the state of current knowledge about the scale and nature of these linkages, and focus the future research agenda. Research has, to date, focussed largely on provisioning services, and on just two poverty dimensions concerning income and assets, and food security and nutrition. While many papers describe links between ecosystem services and dimensions of poverty, few provide sufficient context to enable a thorough understanding of the poverty alleviation impacts (positive or negative), if any. These papers contribute to the accumulating evidence that ecosystem services support well-being, and perhaps prevent people becoming poorer, but provide little evidence of their contribution to poverty alleviation, let alone poverty elimination. A considerable gap remains in understanding the links between ecosystem services and poverty, how change occurs, and how pathways out of poverty may be achieved based on the sustainable utilisation of ecosystem services.

Suggested Citation

  • Suich, Helen & Howe, Caroline & Mace, Georgina, 2015. "Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: A review of the empirical links," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 137-147.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:12:y:2015:i:c:p:137-147
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2015.02.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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