Connecting Biodiversity and Poverty Alleviation

Written by Becky Rosaler on January 17, 2014 in General

While studying the natural environment, systems, cycles, and rhythms reveal themselves as building blocks—the living and nonliving components that interact to form ecosystems, habitats, and our surroundings. In the United States, many of us appreciate a good hike or a weekend spent in the wilderness enjoying the diversity of Creation. Plant With Purpose partnering farmers are dependent on these building blocks for their livelihoods. A greater number of “blocks” means a more robust and healthy system supporting them.



Plant With Purpose staff and board members at the rim of the Nyakazu gorge


Biodiversity—the diversity of life found in a specific area—plays an integral role in the health of an ecosystem and the health of the planet.


Over the past two decades, global conversations linking biodiversity and poverty alleviation have found a voice in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Millennium Development Goals, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

As Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity states,

Evidence suggests that not only do the poor depend on biodiversity for their subsistence needs, we all do. The rural poor depend disproportionally on local ecosystems for their survival however, while the rich can access vital ecosystem services through different markets. When the circumstances are right, biodiversity conservation can be a route both out of poverty and away from unsustainable development.

These sentiments have long been a part of Plant With Purpose’s understanding of development work. And as we’ve worked to restore the environment over the years, we’ve seen birds return to nest in pine trees in Mexico, forests protected in Thailand, and a general understanding of Creation Care increase in partnering communities.


Exploring around the base of the waterfall in the Nyakazu Watershed

This month, we are setting foot in new territory to do a baseline biodiversity study of the Nyakazu Watershed in Burundi. This area has been protected since 1980 and is a region of great natural beauty, with waterfalls and rivers that have carved out caves and a deep gorge. It is home to mammals, birds, and many native plant species. As we monitor the diversity of this area, our ultimate hope is to see these native species begin to take back poorly managed land bordering the Nyakazu Watershed. And as the health of the native ecosystem increases, we expect to see a decrease in poverty.


This video that captures the beauty of the Nyakazu Watershed

To learn more, read: Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Alleviation: A State of Knowledge Review by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.


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