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Ecosystem services and human well-being

Tim Daw unpacks the connections between ecosystem services and human well-being.

The Millennium Assessment promoted the concept of ecosystem services (ES), which is increasingly applied to questions of conservation, human wellbeing and poverty alleviation. Commonly applied ES frameworks, tend to adopt an aggregated view of humanity, which limits their applicability to poverty alleviation for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there is no direct link between ES and the poor's wellbeing due to variable and dynamic mechanisms of access to ES. Secondly, the ES contribution to well-being depends on individual circumstances and need. Thirdly, and as a result of these two points, trade-offs between different ES imply winners and losers and must be analysed according to who derives wellbeing benefits from which ES.

In this video, centre researcher Tim Daw argues for the need to distinguish between different beneficiaries of different ES, and consider how the wellbeing of each is enhanced before we can understand the significance of ES to poverty alleviation.

About Tim Daw
Tim is an interdisciplinary researcher studying coastal resource systems. He has worked with a range of small-scale tropical and industrial high-latitude fisheries and has a background training in ecology, fisheries science, socioeconomics and politics.

He studies linkages between ecological and social components of fisheries at multiple scales. As well as being interesting in their own right, fisheries are an excellent model for understanding the behaviour of social-ecological systems characterised by uncertainty, common-pool resources and local and global drivers.

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Related publication
Daw, T., K. Brown, S. Rosendo, and R. Pomeroy. 2011. "Applying the Ecosystem Services Concept to Poverty Alleviation: The Need to Disaggregate Human Well-Being." Environmental Conservation 38 (04): 370-379. doi:10.1017/S0376892911000506.

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