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Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability

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  • Richardson, Robert B.

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richardson, Robert B., 2011. "Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability," Food Security International Development Working Papers 98782, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:midiwp:98782
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Mendelsohn & Ariel Dinar, 2003. "Climate, Water, and Agriculture," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(3), pages 328-341.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
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    Keywords

    environmental sustainability; ecosystem; food security; Environmental Economics and Policy; Food Security and Poverty;

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