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Dependence Of The Poor On Biodiversity: Which Poor, What Biodiversity?

B. Vira, A. Kontoleon
Published 2012 · Environmental Science

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This paper examines the evidence on the extent to which the poor depend upon biodiversity. It specifically focuses on the question: which groups of the (differentiated) poor depend, in which types of ways, on different elements of biological diversity? The review focused on two particular types of dependence: (a) biodiversity as offering a means of subsistence or income to the poor; and (b) biodiversity as offering insurance to the poor from risks and shocks which prevents them from falling deeper into poverty. The methodology for the review included an examination of the peer‐reviewed literature, as published in journals and books, and an examination of websites and portals of major organisations/forums working on biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. Literature identified through these processes was systematically analysed to examine the empirical evidence on the extent and nature of dependence. Aggregation of the findings from this meta‐analysis is difficult, given the methodological differences in the underlying case studies, but this paper reports on the trends that have emerged from this review. There is considerable variation reported in the extent of household income that is contributed by biodiversity‐based resources. Some of this dependence is very specific to particular groups, especially the poor. Some multi‐sited studies demonstrate variability across different sites, reflecting both the availability of alternative income sources, as well as access issues and previous resource use patterns. Levels of participation in biodiversity based livelihood activities are also high, although there is some variation when this is broken down by wealth class, with the poor typically showing higher levels of dependence. The literature suggests that biodiversity provides the poor a form of cost effective and readily accessible insurance against risk, particularly food security
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