Integration of the Livelihood and Ecosystem Services Frameworks—A Case Study on Urban Agriculture in Mexico City


Abstract Strategies that demonstrate renewed potential to enhance both social and ecological systems are crucial in today’s era of rapid urbanization. However, the approaches used to understand the impacts of such strategies sometimes favor social over environmental theory, or the opposite, but do not always consider both equally. Our study addresses this disconnect by exploring the role of urban agriculture (UA) as an alleviation and land management strategy in Mexico City (MC), Mexico. Our integrated design combined the ecosystem services framework, which was primarily used to assess material and non-material benefits MC residents obtain from UA spaces and its associated vegetation, and the livelihoods framework, which was used to evaluate the relationship between UA and societal impacts. We used a mixed-method approach to quantify the amount of food produced, assess crop diversity, assess six distinct ecological processes linked to UA, identify cultural benefits, and conduct an evaluation of contributions to livelihood capitals. Our study documented the role of UA in supporting ecological processes, connecting humans to nature, and providing a supplemental source of income. However, a multitude of unintended outcomes are identified, such as tradeoffs between different ecological processes, constraints in promoting formal education beyond agroecological knowledge, and an inability to fully elevate families out of poverty. Our integrated approach demonstrated how the ecosystem services and livelihoods frameworks can be used simultaneously to provide thorough assessments of socio-ecological systems, identifying outcomes that could go unnoticed without an interdisciplinary lens.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Mayra I. Rodríguez González
Christian Kelly Scott, Pennsylvania State University
Tatiana Marquina
Demeke B. Mewa
Jorge Garcia Polo, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Binbin Peng, University of Maryland
Earth Interactions

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