Opinion pieces and features from our team, ESPA researchers and others working on science and practice relevant to ESPA…

Ecosystem Services Reality in the Warm Heart of Africa

24 November, 2015
By Anne Nyambane, ESPA Fellow

Recently I had my first visit to Malawi, the “Warm Heart of Africa” and the location of the second case study in my ESPA fellowship project. I was there for three weeks to collect data on whether bioethanol could become a potential substitute for charcoal as a main household fuel in urban and peri-urban areas of Lilongwe. All of the bioethanol produced in Malawi for the past 30 years has been channeled to the transport sector, since it is seen to have high returns. However, the household sector could also offer high returns, which we hope to demonstrate using an ecosystem service approach. The ecosystem approach can help to unpack the complexity associated with charcoal, which is an important provisioning good but when produced unsustainability reduces the capacity of the forest ecosystem to provide other essential goods and services that support human well-being.

As we drove down the well-tarmacked roads of Malawi towards the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), some activities captured my attention linking the reality of life here to ideas in ecosystem services approach. First, a number of men passed on bicycles carrying huge loads of...

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Renewing our focus on Impact

10 November, 2015
By Becky Murray, ESPA Impact Advisor

Impact is at the heart of ESPA. ESPA’s research should lead to improvement in the lives of poor people in developing countries. As knowledge gaps are filled and decision-makers and communities, equipped with new insights and evidence, start doing things differently, ecosystem services will better support poverty alleviation. However, this improvement is not guaranteed; it depends on a range of factors including how the research was commissioned, who is delivering it and what is produced. 

Since its inception, ESPA research has been generating a range of positive outcomes that are already alleviating or look set to alleviate poverty and enhance well-being for poor people in developing countries. The ESPA programme is committed to achieving more.

Having recently joined the ESPA team, Bouchra Chakroune and I have been tasked with renewing ESPA’s focus on Impact, and, to guide this process, we are revising ESPA’s Impact Strategy. This will ensure that all of the work we do globally, regionally and locally, within the ESPA Directorate, among research teams and including local partners, amplifies impact as we move into the final three years of programme delivery.

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