Livelihood of Forest Dependent Communities and Sustainable Forest Management
In the forested landscapes of India, the livelihood of the people living close to forest and within the forests are inextricably linked to the forest ecosystem. People depend on a variety of forest products for food, fodder, agriculture, housing, and an array of marketable minor forest produces. Forests are not only a source of subsistence income for millions of poor households, but also provide employment to the poor in these hinterlands. This makes forests an important contributor to the rural economy in these regions. Widespread poverty and lack of other income generating opportunities often make these people resort to over-exploitation of forest resources which can potentially degrade forest. REDD+ aims at compensating the countries conserving forests as they forgo the economic gain of harvesting them as well as the benefits from alternative land use. This apart, conservation and sustainable management of forest imposes enormous costs - both direct and indirect, for its strong livelihood linkages in many forest-rich countries. With REDD+ emphasizing on decentralized forest management through devolution of power to local communities and safeguards for local livelihood concerns has the potential empower the marginalized communities and improve the livelihood of forest-dependent communities. This chapter discusses the inter-linkages among the forests and livelihood of the local communities and approaches to reduce the forest degradation in the context of REDD+ in India.