Understanding the relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being in rural areas of rapidly urbanizing watersheds is one of the core research questions of landscape sustainability science. It is important for poverty alleviation and forming related policies. However, there is insufficient investigation on the impacts of ecosystem services on poverty alleviation on multiple scales in such region.
This paper investigates whether ecosystem services at the landscape level and household characteristics play important roles in connecting ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in a rapidly urbanizing landscape from the perspective of landscape sustainability science.
We use an urbanizing watershed with a large number of poor people, analyzing the impacts of ecosystem services on poverty alleviation among different types of rural households based on surveys, nonparametric tests, and multinomial logit models.
The results suggested that differences in household-level endowments had significant impacts on poverty alleviation. In terms of ecosystem services, regional (village-level) food supply were significantly associated with poverty alleviation (p < 0.1); while household-level benefits from cultural services had a significant positive effect (p < 0.01) on households moving to the better-off group.
Differentiating the roles of ecosystem services on poverty alleviation between landscape level and household level is important for policy making. In urbanizing watersheds, offering ecological compensations, and providing trainings and financial supports for rural poor people should be adopted to help them get out of poverty.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Included in supplementary files.
Adams H, Adger WN, Ahmad S, Ahmed A, Begum D, Matthews Z (2020) Multi-dimensional well-being associated with economic dependence on ecosystem services in deltaic social-ecological systems of Bangladesh. Reg Environ Change 20(2):1–16
Bai Y, Zheng H, Zhuang C, Ouyang Z, Xu W (2013a) Ecosystem services valuation and its regulation in Baiyangdian baisn: based on InVEST model. Acta Ecol Sin 33(3):0711–0717 (in Chinese)
Bai Y, Zheng H, Ouyang Z, Zhuang C, Jiang B (2013b) Modeling hydrological ecosystem services and tradeoffs: a case study in Baiyangdian watershed, China. Environ Earth Sci 70(2):709–718
Barrett CB, Travis AJ, Dasgupta P (2011) On biodiversity conservation and poverty traps. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:13907–13912
Barthel S, Crumley C, Svedin U (2013) Bio-cultural refugia-safeguarding diversity of practices for food security and biodiversity. Glob Environ Chang 23(5):1142–1152
Bulte EH, Lipper L, Stringer R, Zilberman D (2008) Payments for ecosystem services and poverty reduction: concepts, issues, and empirical perspectives. Environ Dev Econ 13(3):245–254
Carpenter SR, Mooney HA, Agard J, Capistrano D, DeFries RS et al (2009) Science for managing ecosystem services: beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106(5):1305–1312
Chaigneau T, Coulthard S, Brown K, Daw TM, Schulte-Herbrüggen B (2019) Incorporating basic needs to reconcile poverty and ecosystem services. Conserv Biol 33(3):655–664
Cruz-Garcia GS, Sachet E, Vanegas M, Piispanen K (2016) Are the major imperatives of food security missing in ecosystem services research? Ecosys Ser 19:19-31
Daw T, Brown K, Rosendo S, Pomeroy R (2011) Applying the ecosystem services concept to poverty alleviation: the need to disaggregate human well-being. Environ Conserv 38(4):370–379
De Koning F, Aguiñaga M, Bravo M, Chiu M, Lascano M, Lozada T, Suarez L (2011) Bridging the gap between forest conservation and poverty alleviation: the Ecuadorian Socio Bosque program. Environ Sci Policy 14(5):531–542
Derkzen ML, Nagendra H, Teeffelen V, Astrid JA, Purushotham A, Verburg PH (2017) Shifts in ecosystem services in deprived urban areas: understanding people’s responses and consequences for well-being. Ecol Soc 22(1):51
Démurger S, Fournier M, Yang W (2010) Rural households’ decisions towards income diversification: evidence from a township in northern China. China Econ Rev 21:S32–S44
Duan HB, Wu Z (2018) The study on the poverty of the aging population in Hebei Province: A field survey based on 14 counties of Hebei Province. J Heibei Univ 43(1):112–119 (in Chinese)
Eltinge J, Sribey W (1997) Versions of mlogit, ologit, and oprobit for survey data. Stata Stat Bull 40:39–42
Fang YP, Fan J, Shen MY, Song MQ (2014) Sensitivity of livelihood strategy to livelihood capital in mountain areas: empirical analysis based on different settlements in the upper reaches of the Minjiang River. China Ecol Indic 38:225–235
Fedele G, Locatelli B, Djoudi H (2017) Mechanisms mediating the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being and resilience. Ecosyst Serv 28:43–54
Fisher M (2004) Household welfare and forest dependence in Southern Malawi. Environ Dev Econ 9:135–154
Fisher J, Patenaude G, Meir P, Nightingale A, Rounsevell M, Williams M et al (2013) Strengthening conceptual foundations: analysing frameworks for ecosystem services and poverty alleviation research. Glob Environ Chang 23(5):1098–1111
Fisher J, Patenaude G, Giri K, Lewis K, Meir P, Pinho P et al (2014) Understanding the relationships between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: a conceptual framework. Ecosyst Serv 7:34–45
Forman RTT (2008) Urban regions: ecology and planning beyond the city. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Frazier A, Bryan B, Buyantuev A, Chen L, Echeverria C, Jia P et al (2019) Ecological civilization: perspectives from Landsc Ecology and landscape sustainability science. Landsc Ecol 34:1–8
Gao Y, Wang H, Long D (2009) Changes in hydrological conditions and the eco-environmental problems in Baiyangdian watershed. Resour Sci 31(9):1506–1513 (in Chinese)
Haines-Young R, Potschin-Young M (2018) Revision of the common international classification for ecosystem services (CICES V5. 1): a policy brief. One Ecosyst 3:e27108
He C, Liu Z, Gou S, Zhang Q, Zhang J, Xu L (2019) Detecting global urban expansion over the last three decades using a fully convolutional network. Environ Res Lett 14:034008
Hua X, Yan J, Zhang Y (2017) Evaluating the role of livelihood assets in suitable livelihood strategies: protocol for anti-poverty policy in the Eastern Tibetan Plateau, China. Ecol Indic 78:62–74
Huang Q, Zhao X, He C, Yin D, Meng S (2019) Impacts of urban expansion on wetland ecosystem services in the context of hosting the Winter Olympics: a scenario simulation in the Guanting reservoir basin, China. Region Environ Change 19(8):2365–2379
Huang Q, Yin D, He C, Yan J, Liu Z, Meng S et al (2020) Linking ecosystem services and subjective well-being in rapidly urbanizing watersheds: Insights from a multilevel linear model. Ecosyst Serv 43:101106
Jiang B, Chen Y, Xiao Y, Zhao J, Ouyang Z (2017) Evaluation of the economic value of final ecosystem services from the Baiyangdian wetland. Acta Ecol Sin 37(8):2497–2505 (in Chinese)
Jiao X, Pouliot M, Walelign S (2017) Livelihood strategies and dynamics in rural Cambodia. World Dev 97:266–278
Knight J, Shi L, Quheng D (2009) Education and the poverty trap in rural China: setting the trap. Oxf Dev Stud 37(4):311–332
Lade S, Haider L, Engström G, Schlüter M (2017) Resilience offers escape from trapped thinking on poverty alleviation. Sci Adv 3(5):e1603043
Liao C, Brown DG (2018) Assessments of synergistic outcomes from sustainable intensification of agriculture need to include smallholder livelihoods with food production and ecosystem services. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 32:53–59
Liao C, Qiu J, Chen B, Chen D, Fu B, Georgescu M et al (2020) Advancing landscape sustainability science: theoretical foundation and synergies with innovations in methodology, design, and application. Landsc Ecol 35:1–9
Liu B, Idris SD (2004) China’s anti-poverty endeavor: A unique model of communitarianism. 2019–11–04. https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-11-04/China-s-anti-poverty-endeavor-A-unique-model-of-communitarianism-LlyurRYS7C/index.html
Liu Z, Lan J (2015) The sloping land conversion program in China: effect on the livelihood diversification of rural households. World Dev 70:147–161
Liu Z, Liu L (2016) Characteristics and driving factors of rural livelihood transition in the east coastal region of China: a case study of suburban Shanghai. J Rural Stud 43:145–158
Liu L, Wu J (2021) Ecosystem services-human wellbeing relationships vary with spatial scales and indicators: the case of China. Resour Conserv Recycl 172:105662
Liu Y, Liu J, Zhou Y (2017) Spatio-temporal patterns of rural poverty in China and targeted poverty alleviation strategies. J Rural Stu 52:66–75
Mandle L, Shields-Estrada A, Chaplin-Kramer R, Mitchell MGE, Bremer LL et al (2020) Increasing decision relevance of ecosystem service science. Nat Sustain 4:61
Marshall F, Dolley J, Bisht R, Priya R, Waldman L, Amerasinghe P, Randhawa P (2018) Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in urbanising contexts. Ecosystem services and poverty alleviationpp. Routledge, London, pp 111–125
Mbaiwa J, Stronza A (2010) The effects of tourism development on rural livelihoods in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. J Sustain Tour 18(5):635–656
Meng S, Huang Q, Zhang L, He C, Inostroza L, Bai Y, Yin D (2020) Matches and mismatches between the supply of and demand for cultural ecosystem services in rapidly urbanizing watersheds: A case study in the Guanting Reservoir basin, China, Ecosystem Services, 45: 101156
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC
Nahuelhual L, Carmona A, Lozada P, Jaramillo A, Aguayo M (2013) Mapping recreation and ecotourism as a cultural ecosystem service: an application at the local level in Southern Chile. Appl Geogr 40:71–82
Nguyen T, Do T, Bühler D, Hartje R, Grote U (2015) Rural livelihoods and environmental resource dependence in Cambodia. Ecol Econ 120:282–295
Ostrom E (2001) Social capital: a fad or a fundamental concept? In: Serageldin I, Dasgupta P (eds) Social Capital: a Multifaceted Perspective. World Bank, Washington DC
Qian C, Sasaki N, Jourdain D, Kim S, Shivakoti P (2017) Local livelihood under different governances of tourism development in China—a case study of Huangshan mountain area. Tour Manag 61:221–233
Redhead JW, Stratford C, Sharps K, Jones L, Ziv G, Clarke D, Oliver TH, Bullock JM (2016) Empirical validation of the InVEST water yield ecosystem service model at a national scale. Sci Total Environ 569:1418–1426
Robinson BE, Zheng H, Peng W (2019) Disaggregating livelihood dependence on ecosystem services to inform land management. Ecosyst Serv 36:100902
Sandhu H, Sandhu S (2014) Linking ecosystem services with the constituents of human well-being for poverty alleviation in eastern Himalayas. Ecol Econ 107:65–75
Scherr S, White A, Kaimowitz D (2004) A new agenda for forest conservation and poverty reduction. Making markets work for low income producers. Forest Trends and Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Washington, DC
Schreckenberg K, Mace G, Poudyal M (2018) Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: trade-offs and governance (OPEN ACCESS) Routledge Studies in Ecosystem Services. Routledge, London, pp 111–125
Scoones I (1998) Sustainable rural livelihoods: a framework for analysis. IDS Working Paper 72:1–22
Sharp R, Tallis HT, Ricketts T, Guerry AD, Wood SA, Chaplin-Kramer R et al. (2015) InVEST 3.2.0 User’s Guide. The Natural Capital Project, Stanford University, University of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund
Soltani A, Angelsen A, Eid T, Naieni M, Shamekhi T (2012) Poverty, sustainability, and household livelihood strategies in Zagros. Iran Ecol Econ 79:60–70
Stringer L, Dougill A, Thomas A, Spracklen D, Chesterman S, Ifejika Speranza C, Rueff H et al (2012) Challenges and opportunities in linking carbon sequestration, livelihoods and ecosystem service provision in drylands. Environ Sci Policy 19–20:121–135
Su B (2013) Developing rural tourism: the PAT program and ‘Nong jia le’tourism in China. Int J Tour Res 15(6):611–619
Suich H, Howe C, Mace G (2015) Ecosystem services and poverty alleviation: a review of the empirical links. Ecosyst Serv 12:137–147
Tang Z, Shi Y, Nan Z, Xu Z (2012) The economic potential of payments for ecosystem services in water conservation: a case study in the upper reaches of Shiyang River basin, northwest China. Environ Dev Econ 17(4):445–460
TEEB (2010) The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity: ecological and economic foundations. Earthscan, London
United Nations (2014) Learning to live together. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/international-migration/glossary/poverty/ Accessed 21 May 2015
United Nations (2015) We can end poverty-Millenium Development Goals and Beyond 2015. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml. Accessed 23 May 2015
Verma M, Negandhi D (2011) Valuing ecosystem services of wetlands—a tool for effective policy formulation and poverty alleviation. Hydrol Sci J 56(8):1622–1639
von Maltitz GP, Gasparatos A, Fabricius C, Morris A, Willis KJ (2016) Jatropha cultivation in Malawi and Mozambique: impact on ecosystem services, local human well-being, and poverty alleviation. Ecol Soc 21(3). http://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08554-210303
Walelign S (2015) Livelihood strategies, environmental dependency and rural poverty: the case of two villages in rural Mozambique. Environ Dev Sustain 18(2):593–613
Walelign S, Nielsen Ø (2013) Seasonal household income dependency on forest and environmental resources in rural Mozambique. Int J AgriSci 3(2):91–97
Wang P, Yan J, Hua X, Yang L (2019) Determinants of livelihood choice and implications for targeted poverty reduction policies: a case study in the YNL river region, Tibetan Plateau. Ecol Ind 101:1055–1063
Watmough G, Marcinko C, Sullivan C, Tschirhart K, Mutuo P, Palm C, Svenning J (2019) Socioecologically informed use of remote sensing data to predict rural household poverty. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1:201812969
WRI (2005) The wealth of the poor. Managing ecosystems to fight poverty. World Resources Institute, UNDP, UNEP and World Bank. World Resources Institute (WRI), Washington
Wu J (2013) Landscape sustainability science: ecosystem services and human well-being in changing landscapes. Landsc Ecol 28:999–1023
Wu J (2021) Landscape sustainability science (II): core questions and key approaches. Landsc Ecol. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-021-01245-3
Xie W, Huang Q, He C, Zhao X (2018) Projecting the impacts of urban expansion on simultaneous losses of ecosystem services: a case study in Beijing, China. Ecol Ind 84:183–193
Yamane T (1967) Statistics: an introduction analysis. Harper and Row Press, New York
Yang W, Dietz T, Kramer DB, Ouyang Z, Liu J (2015) An integrated approach to understanding the linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being. Ecosyst Health Sustain 1(5):1–12
Ye S, Song C, Shen S, Gao P, Cheng C et al. (2020) Spatial pattern of arable land-use intensity in China. Land Use Policy, 99:104845
Zhang D, Huang Q, He C, Wu J (2017) Impacts of urban expansion on ecosystem services in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration, China: a scenario analysis based on the shared socioeconomic pathways. Resour Conserv Recycl 125:115–130
Zhao L, Xia X (2020) Tourism and poverty reduction: empirical evidence from China. Tour Econ 26(2):233–256
Zhao L, Zhang P, Zhu Y (2014) Relationship between cultivated land resources and farmers’ income in Poverty Areas around Beijing and Tianjin cities——an analysis based on panel data of 7 poor counties in Baoding city. Bull Soil Water Conserv 2:255–261 (in Chinese)
Zheng H, Wang L, Peng W, Zhang C, Li C, Robinson B et al (2019) Realizing the values of natural capital for inclusive, sustainable development: informing China’s new ecological development strategy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 116:8623–8628
This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41971225), the Beijing Municipal Natural Science Fund, China (Grant No. 8192027), and the Beijing Normal University Tang Scholar.
Conflict of interest
Consent to participate
Consent for publication
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Landscape Sustainability Science.
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Yin, D., Huang, Q., He, C. et al. The varying roles of ecosystem services in poverty alleviation among rural households in urbanizing watersheds. Landsc Ecol 37, 1673–1692 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-022-01431-x
- Livelihood strategies
- Targeted poverty alleviation policies
- Landscape sustainability science
- Sustainable development goals
- Urban sustainability