Are the major imperatives of food security missing in ecosystem services research?

Authors Cruz-Garcia, G.S.; Sachet, E.; Vanegas, M.; Piispanen, K.
Year of Publication 2016
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Ecosystem Services
Volume 19
Pagination 19-31
Open Access No


It has been widely recognized that food security depends on the sustainable use and provisioning of ecosystem services. The goal of this paper is to present an overview of the scientific literature on ecosystem services and food security, with a major focus on case studies of farming communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, in order to answer the following research questions: (1) does ecosystem services research generate knowledge that helps to address the major imperatives of food security?, and (2) are the multiple linkages between ecosystem services and food security analyzed or assumed in research? The results of the study highlighted that food utilization, access and stability, which are the major food security challenges in the world, remained under-investigated. There is a major bias on food availability in relation to crop production, and most articles assumed that food security would improve by increasing crop productivity, but this hypothesis remained largely untested. Other research blind-spots were co-production, trade-offs and off-site effects of ecosystem services in relation to food security, gender and cultural services. The study concludes that ecosystem services research needs to improve efforts to generate knowledge that helps to address the main imperatives of food security.