Poverty and Environment Linkages in Mountains and Uplands: Reflections on the 'Poverty Trap' Thesis

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
"In this paper I will first consider a central premise of the idea of a poverty trap - that there is a mutual and spiralling relationship between poverty and environmental degradation. The argument maintains that, mainly due to inherent short time horizons and risk, poverty encourages over-exploitation of the physical environment which results in further impoverishment. Using both conceptual and empirical material, this paper examines some of the major linkages that are believed to exist between the processes of poverty and environmental degradation, with a focus on the Western Himalayan Regions of India - the state of Himachal Pradesh and the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh. In particular, the paper investigates whether the relationship is functional or causal, and assesses the role of other factors, particularly institutions and social and cultural influences. The concern with poverty in rural mountain areas reflects the importance of these regions internationally: mountains and uplands represent the majority of the Food and Agricultural Organisation's (FAO) 'critical zones' - those areas of the world that are not able to grow enough food to feed their inhabitants adequately. Hence some of conclusions reached here will be of relevance to similar geographic regions of the world."
poverty, social capital, sustainability, environmental degradation, resource management, mountain regions, Himalayas