The Role for Landscape Ecology in Poverty Relief

In the latest issue of Landscape Ecology, Louis Iverson suggests landscape ecologists have a role in poverty relief. Reviewing SachsThe End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time, Iverson believes the book ‘should motivate additional research and implementation of principles within landscape ecology into this critical arena’ and argues that landscape ecologists‘can provide expertise to efficiently use funds to the greatest value and to research sustainable, integrated pathways to development’. After discussing several aspects of the current state of the global poverty problem (poverty statistics, water scarcity, Millennium Development Goals, environmental constraints on development), Iverson suggests landscape ecologists can contribute to these issues by;

  1. Modelling the impacts and possible mitigation of climate change on water and agricultural production, especially in the most vulnerable zones with high levels of extreme poverty
  2. Creating innovative, landscape-level systems for efficient water use, agricultural production, and infrastructure in the zones of extreme poverty
  3. Working towards sustainable management of ecosystems, especially fragile ecosystems, that are deteriorating due to human pressures
  4. Assisting in planning for urban growth that also sustains agriculture productivity using appropriate water, soil, and food management systems
  5. Building models of low-cost but sustainable means of protection against natural or technological disasters, especially storms, floods, and droughts (climate-related disasters)
  6. Designing infrastructure and energy improvements in developing countries with maximum positive human impact and minimum negative environmental impact
  7. Working to better understand the diseases of the poor and spatial and temporal relationships of these diseases
  8. Working to understand how over-consumption and excessive wealth contributes to environmental degradation and poverty elsewhere in the global landscape, and propose/model remedial solutions
  9. Developing partnerships with ecologists, economists, landscape architects, wildlife managers, and land managers in developing countries that make a difference
  10. Seeking out students from poor countries who can provide direct linkages to projects back in their home countries
  11. Assisting in land-use and urban planning efforts where practical and feasible, focusing on improving conditions for slum dwellers
  12. Working to help influence decision-makers to realize that investments toward the goals outlined above are well spent and the right thing to do

More inspiration, if it were needed, to continue this field of research…

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