Food security in a perfect storm: Using the ecosystem services framework to increase understanding

G. M. Poppy (Lead / Corresponding author), S. Chiotha, F. Eigenbrod, C. A. Harvey, M. Honzák, M. D. Hudson, A. Jarvis, N. J. Madise, K. Schreckenberg, C. M. Shackleton, F. Villa, T. P. Dawson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    102 Citations (Scopus)
    29 Downloads (Pure)


    Achieving food security in a 'perfect storm' scenario is a grand challenge for society. Climate change and an expanding global population act in concert to make global food security even more complex and demanding. As achieving food security and the millennium development goal (MDG) to eradicate hunger influences the attainment of other MDGs, it is imperative that we offer solutions which are complementary and do not oppose one another. Sustainable intensification of agriculture has been proposed as a way to address hunger while also minimizing further environmental impact. However, the desire to raise productivity and yields has historically led to a degraded environment, reduced biodiversity and a reduction in ecosystem services (ES), with the greatest impacts affecting the poor. This paper proposes that the ES framework coupled with a policy response framework, for example Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR), can allow food security to be delivered alongside healthy ecosystems, which provide many other valuable services to humankind. Too often, agro-ecosystems have been considered as separate from other natural ecosystems and insufficient attention has been paid to the way in which services can flow to and from the agro-ecosystem to surrounding ecosystems. Highlighting recent research in a large multi-disciplinary project (ASSETS), we illustrate the ES approach to food security using a case study from the Zomba district of Malawi.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20120288
    Number of pages13
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1639
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2014


    • Agriculture-forest interface
    • Ecosystem services
    • Food security
    • Malawi
    • Models


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