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Poverty Induced Forest Degradation in JFM Regime: Evidence from India

Das, Amarendra (2007): Poverty Induced Forest Degradation in JFM Regime: Evidence from India.

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Abstract

Around 28% of the total forest area in India has been brought under Joint Forest Management (JFM) and rest 72% remains virtually open access to local communities. In such a scenario, communities actively participating in JFM are also engaged in degrading de facto open access forests to meet their basic livelihood necessities. This reveals that, the poverty induced forest degradation still continues in JFM regime. This paper theoretically and empirically explains the factors that determine the individual indulgence in forest degradation. Based on a survey of 140 households in three forest fringe villages of Chandaka Wildlife Division of Orissa Sate in India, the study shows that lack of education, landlessness and low environmental awareness significantly influence the individual involvement in forest degradation. The implementation of JFM merely transfers the dependence of local community from one patch to another. It shows that unless the source of livelihood is secured, forest degradation by rural poor households would persist. In order to halt this depressing scenario, it calls for raising the individual opportunity cost through employment generation, skill formation and land allocation to the landless.

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