Cornell Leads Series on Poverty Traps and Conservation

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America, poor farmers supplement their livelihoods by hunting and cutting wood, but such practices seriously threaten biodiversity in the developing world.

Now, Cornell researchers are leading the way to explore solutions that not only protect biodiversity but also improve the lives of the poor.

Chris Barrett, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and professor of economics, and Alexander Travis, associate professor of reproductive biology and wildlife conservation at the College of Veterinary Medicine, have co-edited a 10-paper special feature in the Aug. 23 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on biodiversity conservation and poverty traps. Several contributions involve Cornell alumni and faculty who attended a 2010 Cornell-hosted international workshop on the topic.

“The goals of the workshop were both to understand the linkages between biodiversity and poverty, and then evaluate new methods being used to tackle these connected problems,” said Travis, who co-organized the event with Barrett.

There is a “large conceptual literature out there” offering theories and hypotheses that haven’t been substantiated by interdisciplinary, empirical research, said Barrett. “Work that authentically integrates biodiversity conservation and poverty is extremely rare,” he added. For example, few claims of new initiatives generating “win-win” outcomes are carefully evaluated in terms of both their social and environmental results.

Source: ECN (link opens in a new window)