Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: assessing the constraints and opportunities

Adrian Martin, Andrew Blowers, Jan Boersema

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

1 Citation (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


The ways in which human relationships with nature are framed are in part a product of the social conditions of the day (Glacken 1967). We have mentioned in previous editorials that these conditions can also influence society's receptivity to scientific agendas and it should perhaps be no surprise then that essentially market-based conceptualizations of human connections to nature have flourished in recent decades. Some argue that the Ecosystem Services (ES) scientific framework, as popularized through the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA 2005) is itself a hybrid of scientific synthesis and political context. Norgaard (2010) goes further than most in arguing that its central scientific axioms are supported by neither state of the art ecological nor social sciences, and are bolstered by blind faith in market mechanisms. Despite such criticism, the ES framework has in a fairly short period of time become heavily used as a means of supporting market-based approaches to conservation and development. Because of this influence, it is timely to ask questions about how useful the framework currently is and what research agendas can contribute to improvement. In doing so we raise some weighty concerns about current knowledge of ES and these cautionary words are in part aimed at those implementing large ES-based programs such REDD, and suggestive of a research agenda that needs to accompany and support this and future ES initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Cite this