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Regional Sustainability

Abstract

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) play a significant role in the improvement of the forest-dependent people’s livelihoods around the world, strengthening protection for the sustainable use of forests. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the influence of occupational category-wise (fuelwood collectors, farmers, small-scale businessmen, day labourers, and tea estate labourers) dependency on NTFPs and the role of NTFPs on household income around the Khadimnagar National Park (KNP) in northeastern Bangladesh. In 2014, 178 purposively selected respondents from four villages (out of 22 villages around the KNP) were interviewed face-to-face using a semi-structured questionnaire. The study observed that these forest-dependent communities utilized resources of the KNP mainly for domestic energy supply, household income, and house construction. Results showed that income from NTFPs made a significant contribution to family income. Income data analysis indicated that small-scale businessmen earned relatively more income from NTFPs, followed by tea estate labourers and day labourers. The study revealed significant negative relationships of the distance of households from the forest with the amount of NTFPs collected (P < 0.01) and monthly income from NTFPs (P < 0.01). Positive significant relationships were found between the amount of NTFPs collected and the time spent in NTFP collection (P < 0.001), as well as between monthly income from NTFPs and family size (P < 0.001). The fuelwood collectors and farmers collected significantly greater amounts of NTFPs per trip (P < 0.001) than other occupational categories. The households that were moderately to highly dependent on NTFPs collected significantly higher amounts of NTFPs per trip (P < 0.01) than the households that were moderately dependent and less dependent on NTFPs. Community dependence on KNP’s resources, community’s appreciation of the KNP’s ecosystem services for villagers’ livelihoods, and community’s high levels of concern for forest conservation provided a foundation for the sustainable management of the KNP. The study findings will be useful for designing an effective forest management plan and policy for NTFP management and forest conservation with the active involvement of the forest-dependent people in northeastern Bangladesh.

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280

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