Biodiversity loss and poverty are often closely linked problems in developing countries. There is increasing concern that efforts to address these issues may not be compatible. Creation of protected areas can, for instance, have negative social and economic impacts for communities living nearby.
In this article in Science, William M. Adams and colleagues review attempts to integrate conservation and poverty alleviation programmes. Evidence of lasting positive outcomes from projects that link conservation and development is rare. Such 'win-win' solutions may only be possible under specific conditions and, in most cases, it will be necessary to choose between one goal or the other, say the authors.
Making such choices will require a full appreciation of the relationships between poverty reduction and conservation. To help clarify these links, Adams and co-authors compare four diverse ways of viewing them, from considering them as separate policy issues to considering biodiversity conservation as being central to poverty reduction. All four approaches are consistent with calls for conservation to take account of social impacts and for poverty alleviation efforts to consider impacts on biodiversity.