Where, oh where, are the studies we need?

Can we work to reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity at the same time? In a recent paper (Poverty, Development, And Biodiversity Conservation: Shooting in the Dark?) Arun Agrawal and Kent Redford write

the mass of scholarly work on the subject does not permit systematic and context-sensitive generalizations about the conditions under which it may be possible to achieve poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation simultaneously. The vast sums channeled toward joint achievement of poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation are all the more remarkable in light of the basic lack of evidence on the extent to which these goals can jointly be reached…

Better research design, based on careful specification of the relevant hypotheses, will likely require panel data from a suite of sites and households to allow systematic comparison across cases and regions…

…before and after studies are likely to prove invaluable in gaining a deeper understanding of the links between different measures of poverty and biodiversity.

For a relevant article, read also Jon Christensen’s Win-Win Illusions. I recommended it.

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