Reliance on scientific knowledge alone has often been a key reason why top-down aid programmes have struggled to deliver sustainable development in the global south. Previous attempts to commercialise the African Jatropha tree as a biofuel failed after ignoring local knowledge. Using this as an example of a crop that could support pro-poor ecosystem services, this ESPA project is looking to create a transferable framework for bridging gaps between local and global scientific knowledge.
Making an Impact
Whether it's setting up the world's first carbon credit scheme for mangroves, developing an at-a-glance environmental health index for policy-makers, or understanding exactly why justice matters for environmental management, ESPA's research is already making a difference to poor people's lives around the world.
ESPA is an interdisciplinary research programme which is applying new tools and conceptual frameworks to show how ecosystem services can alleviate poverty.This overview document describes the variety of impact that ESPA research has had so far, using examples from the four projects which are individually featured in the stories listed below.
This story describes work of the ESPA project titled 'Poverty and ecology: developing a new evolutionary approach', which is documenting long-term ecological change into an Ecosystem Services Index. The tool is an at-a-glance indicator of environmental health, based on the financial world’s Dow Jones Index.
This story examines the work of the ESPA project titled 'What types of investment can most cost-effectively ensure ecosystem service provision? A randomised program evaluation', which is possibly the first fully randomised trial which has been applied to a conservation project. The new methods developed by this project, and improvements to existing Payment for Ecosystem Service schemes, may have repercussions for many future research projects, as well as conservation and development programmes.
The ESPA project titled 'Swahili Seas' is the first carbon credit project working with mangrove forests. It builds on 20 years of conservation research and is producing techniques and mapping tools which will allow other projects, as well as Kenyan policy-makers, to calculate the true value of conserving mangroves. *See the February 2013 update from this project*
This story examines the ESPA project titled 'Just ecosystem management: linking ecosystem services with poverty alleviation', which is promoting a new conceptual framework, using research on socioecological tradeoffs and justice dimensions in the management of ecosystem services.
All of the documents in the Making an Impact series are available as higher quality print versions. Please contact Ruth Swanney at email@example.com if you would like copies.