Ecosystem management, democratic governance, and poverty reduction are each essential elements of sustainable economic growth. Moreover, these elements are inextricably linked. More than 1.3 billion people depend on fisheries, forests, and agriculture for employment – close to half of all jobs worldwide (FAO 2004:169-174). This dependence of livelihoods on natural systems is nowhere more important than among the rural poor (MA 2005:7, 48). (See Table 1.1.) In Africa, more than seven in ten poor people live in rural regions, with most engaged in resource-dependent activities, such as small-scale farming, livestock production, fishing, hunting, artisanal mining, and logging (IFAD 2001:15). This small-scale production accounts for a significant percentage of the GDP of many African nations (Kura et al. 2004:36-39; IFPRI 2004:2).
Making wise choices about the use of natural resources and the distribution of environmental benefits and costs is central to maximizing the contribution that a nation