Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability
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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