There is an explicit assumption in international policy statements that biodiversity can help in efforts to tackle global poverty. This systematic map was stimulated by an interest in better understanding the evidence behind this assumption by disaggregating the terms and asking - as our review question - which components or attributes of biodiversity influence which dimensions of poverty?
Methods: We employed a search strategy that covered peer-reviewed and grey literature. Relevant studies included in the map were those that described an interaction by poor people with biodiversity in non-OECD countries and documented some kind of contribution (positive or negative) to different aspects of their well-being.
Results: A total of 387 studies were included in the final systematic map. Of these 248 met our additional criteria that studies should include a measure of the contribution to poverty alleviation. The studies were widely distributed geographically. Ecological distribution was less well spread, however, with the largest number of studies focussed on forests. We found studies addressing 12 different dimensions of poverty/well-being – although the most commonly studied was income. Similarly we found studies addressing all levels of biodiversity from genes to ecosystems. The largest number of studies was focussed on groups of resources – particularly non-timber forest products. In most cases, abundance was the attribute that made biodiversity important for poverty alleviation/well-being, while diversity was the least frequently noted attribute.
Conclusions: The map highlights a number of apparent gaps in the evidence base. Very few studies documented any causal link between use of biodiversity and an impact on poverty. In the majority of the studies biodiversity was framed in terms of its value as a resource – in the form of specific goods that can be used to generate tangible benefits such as cash, food fuel. Very few studies explored the underpinning role of biodiversity in ecosystem service delivery for poverty alleviation, and fewer investigated the benefits of diversity as a form of insurance or adaptive capacity. This is where we suggest research should be prioritised.
Roe, D.; Sandbrook, C.; Fancourt, M.; Giuliani, A.; Gordon-Maclean, A.; Sibanda, M. Which components or attributes of biodiversity influence which dimensions of poverty? Environmental Evidence (2014) 3 (1) 3-18. [DOI: 10.1186/2047-2382-3-3]