I refer to an article by Geoffrey Lean, an ecology-orientated columnist in The Daily Telegraph (UK newspaper).
In his article, Mr Lean mentions the amazing economic turn-around of the village of Hiware Bazar in the Maharashtra State of India and his information comes from a UN study.
I quote "Since 1995, the average income of the village has risen twentyfold... The village did not so much as find some new resource as rediscover how to look after an old one - water. The climate has always been dry, delivering just 15 inches of rain a year, but over the decades villagers had made things much worse by felling the forests in the surrounding hills that trapped the rainfall and let it percolate into the ground.
Drought became endemic, with wells only containing water during the Monsoon. But, in the 1990s the villagers change course, planting trees and digging trenches around the contours of the hills to trap water. the wells filled and the village began exporting water to its neighbours. The grass harvest shot up from 100 to 6,600 Tonnes [Metric Tons] between 200 and 2004, while milk production has risen from 150 litres a day in the mid 1990s to 4,000 now."
"The explicable miracle of Hiware Bazar is just one example among many given in the UN report - The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity - to prove the point that looking after nature makes economic, as well as ecological sense."
Please note: I am aware that this topic is not directly concerned with architecture, but on the other hand, without some surplus wealth there would be no architecture.