The natural resource base, terrestrial and marine, provides rural households in lower-income countries with income, food, shelter, and medicines, which are variously gathered and hunted in common lands and waters. These resources may be actively managed, either by the government or local community; or they may be de facto open access, with little effort by governments to prevent what may be de jure illegal extraction. This review appraises the literature that encompasses the direct value of wild resources to rural households, the extent to which these resources mitigate poverty and inequality, and the importance of the institutional context. More recent literature increasingly addresses competing demands on the resource base, which both supports nearby livelihoods and enhances ecosystem services such as biodiversity; and the extent to which initiatives such as community-based payments for ecosystem services change how people interact with the resource base.


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