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Poverty and biodiversity: evidence about nature and the nature of evidence

Dilys Roe

Briefing

Much international lip service is paid to the apparently self-evident truth that preserving biodiversity is closely linked to alleviating poverty. Certainly, development planners should take biodiversity more seriously: mainstream development pathways continue to degrade natural environments and deplete valuable biodiversity resources. But a review summarised here shows that rigorous, documented evidence of whether, how, and how far biodiversity can alleviate poverty is surprisingly thin on the ground. Researchers and policymakers must do more to explore the complex relationships between biodiversity and poverty, which are often beneficial but which can also cause conflict or even harm. With development and conservation policy increasingly evidence based, these knowledge gaps must be filled not just by scientific studies, but by recognising other types of evidence including informal, traditional and oral knowledge.

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Project information

There is an explicit assumption that reducing the rate of biodiversity loss can help in efforts to tackle global poverty. But the evidence for this assumption is surprisingly weak. This project aimed to review the existing evidence base, identify knowledge gaps and make evidence more widely available.

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Building evidence on how biodiversity affects poverty