Dependence of rural poor on local ecosystems for livelihood has potential to accelerate loss of ecosystem services. In this study, we use ecosystem services concept to investigate poverty and ecosystem interactions in the Darjeeling district, West Bengal, India which is a part of the eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. First, we assessed multidimensional poverty in six villages (57 households) in the region using household surveys. Chronic poverty existed in all the six villages in the study area and the cash income per capita per day was US$ 0.16-0.34 which is far below the international standards of defining poverty on income basis. Second, we identified five direct and three indirect drivers of ecosystem change through semi-structured interviews with the head of the households. Then we identified linkages between ecosystem services and basic human needs. These linkages were used to identify measures to improve livelihood of rural poor. The major outcome of this study is in highlighting the ecosystem-based approach to improve livelihood of rural poor.
- Ecosystem services
- Sustainable development