Big Questions

There are a number of options available to utilize ecosystems services to reduce poverty and this depends on where (scale) and what ecosystem (e.g. aquatic, forest or watershed) you need to utilize. Speaking from an African perspective where majority smallholder farmers rely on soil, options include up-scaling Conservation Agriculture (i.e. minimum soil tillage, permanent soil cover, crop rotations or Agro-forestry (i.e. integrating crops with trees that release nitrogen into the soil). The idea is to increase total soil carbon which is critical in making agriculture more productive and hence address poverty. Further, such an approach would lessen pressure on forests since there would be no slash and burn practices that degrade ecosystems. Obviously, the benefits would be multiple since this would enhance services such as pollination (more productivity), water provision and purification etc.