People's participation in forest conservation and livelihoods improvement: experience from a forestry project in Bangladesh

Author(s): Islam KK, Rahman MGM, Fujiwaraa T, Sato N


In Bangladesh, many forestry projects have been launched with the objective of involving local people in managing forest resources. However, only a few of them have been sustained. In a reaction, the Forest Department (FD) of Bangladesh initiated a project in the Madhupur Sal forest area to protect forests and improve the livelihoods of forest-dependent people in a sustainable way. This study analysed the nature and extent of peoples' participation in Madhupur projects, and evaluated the project's impacts on the livelihoods of participating people through empirical data. The result revealed that capacity building of encroachers and forest-dependent families were the basic achievements of this project. Natural assets, social relationships, and the utilization of human capital through alternative livelihood strategies have provided security and improved livelihood assets of participants. All participants were appointed as paid community forest workers, received incentives, and established a good relationship with the FD, which dismissed participants' forest offences and mobilized their participation. Moreover, protection of encroacher intervention in Sal forests and substantial re-vegetation went hand-in-hand in a synergistic way that made the project initially successful, but community empowerment issues will need more attention from the FD to ensure the sustainability of the project.

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