Links between Biodiversity and Poverty Alleviation

Name: Jane Sheehan.

Title of Assignment:

“Nature is the foundation of business. Ecology sets the rules for economy. Thus, damaging nature is damaging business. Like cutting the branch we sit on.”

  • Part I: Evaluate the links between Biodiversity and poverty alleviation in underdeveloped countries.
  • Part II: Discuss whether economic development activities aimed at income generation in emerging nations are likely to have a negative impact on biodiversity.

Part I: Evaluate the links between Biodiversity and poverty alleviation in underdevloping countries.

The issue of poverty and biodiversity in developing countries are intrinsically linked, almost in a paradoxical way. The ideology of biodiversity is one which is constantly under debate, however, a concise definition is that it encompasses all variety of life, from genes, to species, ecosystems and habitats. Undeveloped countries depend on biodiversity as a means of survival. In their case, biodiversity refers to local resources (such as livestock for food and transport, crop for shelter and produce, fuel). These are known as “ecosystem goods” (Irish Aid Factsheet). Biodiversity is also measured as a type of service, such as the level of climate regulation, and water resources. Biodiversity is a means of wealth in these countries, or insurance. Countries which are impoverished are then therefore the first to be affected when there is a loss in biodiversity.

Poverty reduction is referred is an ideal that it is moving a population behind a so-called defined “poverty line”. In most cases, poverty is usually not reduced, but alleviated or prevented in some areas. The poor in majority of alleviation studies refer to rural communities which live close to biodiverse areas, or small populations which inhabit inaccessible areas. These rural populations depend on local biodiversity for their basic human needs. This can be historically traced, where populations live off of low impact intrusion of biodiversity. It is often the low value, typically “inferior” goods which are highly significant to the poor, providing them with basic human needs. Richer areas access more “significant” resources through a series of markets, such as the global economy and international trading.

Moving onto the topic of poverty alleviation and biodiversity, it is hypothesised that there are links between the two. Biodiversity, in relation to poorer nations, is often measured as an abundance of “natural resources” such as the following: fish, mangroves, forests, wild animals and plants. These are often found in tropical environments. An interest in biodiversity and conservation may lead to a decrease in poverty levels in an area. Certain services or employment opportunities may be deep rooted in conservation processes, such as nature based tourism, protected area jobs, non-timber forest products (NTFP). These can target both problems, often providing poverty reduction methods, or preventing people from falling deeper into poverty. When conditions are optimum, these services lead to an increase in income and a level of poverty alleviation.

Tourism = well known means of alleviating poverty. Instead of degrading a resource, seek to improve the knowledge surrounding it. Not only conserving, but gaining money.

Part 2: Discuss whether economic development activities aimed at income generation in emerging nations are likely to have a negative impact on biodiversity.

The economic development activities which nations undertake as a means of generating income in turn affects biodiversity. Loss in biodiversity can be linked to economy growth. As income per capita rises, so does the depletion of natural resources, and the degradation of natural habitats. Increase in industrialisation in countries leads to a correlation of pollution levels, however these processes may be key to employment opportunities and income. Though the area may be moving away from poverty, it is also moving towards a greater loss of biodiversity. There is also the issue of biodiversity loss in an underdeveloped area due to demand of product from developing countries. There is a high level of exportations from impoverished states to other countries of greater economic wealth, for example goods such as coffee, bananas, and sugar. There is also the problem of endangered animal trading.  Therefore loss is not only primarily linked to processes happening within a country, but as a result of processes happening in considerably better off areas. Therefore these areas are being exploited.

As biodiversity loss increases in an area, as does public concern. An overall increase in income per capita means that the government of these areas have more expenditure for the protection of species and habitats. It can also be considered that, households which have a higher income rate, have more money to use as a part of conservation effort. One could even say, as the primary need of local resources for survival declines, conservation becomes a national issue. Biodiversity becomes economically important. Resources can be manufactured on an agricultural and pharmaceutical basis. People also begin to look towards the aesthetic properties of biodiversity, such as tourism, recreation space, and genetic diversity. As the economy develops, therefore so does environmental policy. Conservation effort can be measured by the state protection of the land, and the halt on the trade of endangered species.

In developing areas, plants can be economically important due to their emerging importance in modern day medicine. Therefore certain “valuable” species are cultivated on a large scale for production measures in monoculture plantations. This method of increasing income leads to a volume of resources and an increase in the species biomass, but does not directly increase diversity, but abundance.

Therefore a significant stabilisation in biodiversity loss can be witnessed in these developed areas. Though biodiversity loss comes to a slight standstill, the original effects are not seen to be reversed, nor will biodiversity be increased. It’s hard to say whether these methods will improve biodiversity, or degrade it.

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