Resource-use decisions made by households and local communities in pursuit of today's survival and livelihood security are influenced by the policies, institutions, and technologies that impact on their lives. Such decisions are the main determinants of links between poverty elimination, improved land care, and sustainable rural livelihoods. In the long term such goals can be compatible but in the short term the need for increased yields with increasing populations is likely to undermine sustainable natural resource management. Increasing analysis and understanding of poverty, its measurement, and identification of the processes that create poverty, as well as improved land care are key to creating sustainable livelihoods. Hillside and mountainous areas are particularly vulnerable to poverty due to their inaccessibility, fragility, marginality, and diversity. Although many of the world hot spots for land degradation are found in hillside areas, there are also many bright spots where improvements in natural resource management are resulting in increased incomes. Poverty elimination will require revival of the community stake in the natural resource base, restoring local control over local resources, and use of local perspectives and traditional knowledge systems in development activities. New policies, institutions, and technologies will need to reflect these principles.
Mountain Research and Development (1999) 19( 3) 179-190