Humans have always depended upon natural ecosystems to supply a range of services useful for their survival and well-being. However, with widespread urbanisation, modernisation, and globalisation, along with the primacy of capitalist economic models, the obvious reliance of humans on ecosystems has become diluted for many, and difficult to maintain for others. The importance of ecosystems in providing the services that underpin every single productive and spiritual activity of humankind has been suppressed in the consciousness of many, and so ecosystems are mismanaged, abused and degraded. So too, the struggle for daily survival of others, many of whom may have a keen appreciation of the importance of ecosystem services in their everyday lives. The purpose of the book is to provide evidence for policy analysts, decision-makers and researchers of the significant links between the health of ecosystems and human well-being, based on a review of literature and case studies from the arid and semi-arid lands of southern Africa.
The argument is that a neglect and abuse of ecosystem goods and services exacerbates poverty, especially for the already vulnerable and marginalised who typically have inadequate options or capital to address these negative effects. Consequently, investment in, and wise management of, ecosystem goods and services can prevent a deepening of poverty.