What are the links between biodiversity and poverty alleviation?

Article, 16 August 2013

The links between biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation are widely debated and hotly contested. We are carrying out research to clarify and assess the evidence on the links between the two.

Field devoured by wild boar. Photo: Lhab Tshering\National Biodiversity Centre of Bhutan

A 2010 policy statement by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development notes that “Biodiversity and ecosystem services are critical for achieving the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals]”. Similarly the 2005 World Resources Report titled The Wealth of the Poor sees biodiversity and ecosystem services as a stepping stone out of poverty.

Others are less sure. A Wildlife and Poverty Study by the UK Department for International Development finds that wildlife is only likely to be a route out of poverty for a limited number of poor people and conservation scientists argue that few poor people live in the areas that are of interest for biodiversity conservation.

IIED is working to both clarify and strengthen the evidence base through a number of activities: