Exploring the ecosystem limits to poverty alleviation in African forest-agriculture landscapes
Agricultural development is a major pathway out of poverty in rural Africa. Productivity relies heavily on fertile soils, the control of pests and diseases, and crop pollination by wild animals. Although agricultural practices designed to deliver those can improve rural livelihoods in the short term, ecosystem degradation and the associated loss of ecosystem services might threaten these gains in the medium to long-term.
This project aimed to explore those ecosystem limits in forest-agriculture landscapes by focusing research on cocoa farming in Ghana and coffee farming in Ethiopia. Ghana and Ethiopia provided an opportunity to study ecosystems that have contrasting development trajectories, levels of rural poverty and ecosystem health.
By studying these contrasts, the project provided the scientific evidence that helps rural communities avoid the potentially detrimental effects of ecosystem degradation and hence have more sustainable livelihoods in the longer-term.