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Sustainability 2010, 2(11), 3520-3548; doi:10.3390/su2113520

Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, 131 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Received: 26 October 2010 / Revised: 10 November 2010 / Accepted: 16 November 2010 / Published: 17 November 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Security and Environmental Sustainability)
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Food security in developing countries depends in part on the sustainable use of natural resources. Food security is usually examined through three dimensions, namely the availability, access, and utilization of food. Ecosystems directly and indirectly support each of these dimensions through the provision of critical ecosystem services that facilitate agricultural production, create income-generating opportunities, and provide energy for cooking. However, in some cases, household uses of natural resources undermine particular elements of food security, hindering national poverty reduction strategies and threatening the sustainability of critical ecosystem functions. I examine the role of ecosystem services in rural food security through the lens of its three dimensions, and highlight the tensions that stem from household-level interactions and uses. In some cases, uses of resources and services that support the access and utilization dimensions may undermine the ecosystem functions that support food availability. The conclusions underscore the importance for the integration of ecosystem services into food security plans and poverty reduction strategies in developing countries.
Keywords: food security; ecosystem services; environmental sustainability; international development food security; ecosystem services; environmental sustainability; international development
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Richardson, R.B. Ecosystem Services and Food Security: Economic Perspectives on Environmental Sustainability. Sustainability 2010, 2, 3520-3548.

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