Incorporating basic needs to reconcile poverty and ecosystem services

Author(s): Chaigneau, T., Coulthard, S., Brown, K., Daw, T., Schulte-Herbrüggen, B.
In: Conservation Biology,
Year: 2018
Type: Journal / article
Link to centre authors: Daw, Tim
Full reference: Chaigneau, T., Coulthard, S., Brown, K., Daw, T., Schulte-Herbrüggen, B. 2018. Incorporating basic needs to reconcile poverty and ecosystem services. Conservation Biology,


Conservation managers frequently face the challenge of protecting and sustaining biodiversity without producing detrimental outcomes for (often poor) human populations that depend upon ecosystem services for their wellbeing. However, win‐win solutions are often elusive and can mask trade‐offs and negative outcomes for the wellbeing of particular groups of people. To deal with such trade‐offs, approaches are needed to identify both ecological as well as social thresholds to determine the acceptable ‘solution space’ for conservation. Although human wellbeing as a concept has recently gained prominence among conservationists, they still lack tools to evaluate how their action affects human wellbeing in a given context. This paper presents the Theory of Human Needs in the context of conservation, building on an extensive historical application of needs approaches in international development. We detail an innovative participatory method, to evaluate how human needs are met, using locally relevant thresholds. We then establish the connections between human needs and ecosystem services. An application of this method in coastal East Africa identifies households who are in serious harm through not meeting different basic needs, and uncovers the role of ecosystem services in meeting these. Drawing from the international development and wellbeing literature, we suggest that this methodological approach, can help conservationists and planners balance poverty alleviation and biodiversity protection, ensure that conservation measures do not, at the very least, push individuals into serious harm and as a basis for monitoring the impacts of conservation on multidimensional poverty.


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