Socio-economic significance of reed forests in a rural community: A case study from the greater Sylhet Region of Bangladesh

Authors: Chowdhury, Qumruzzaman; Manzoor Rashid, A.; Afrad, Masuduzzaman

Source: Small-scale Forestry, Volume 3, Number 1, March 2004 , pp. 121-130(10)

Publisher: Springer

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The reed forests that are the subject of this study are scattered over five thanas of the Sunamganj and Sylhet Districts of the Sylhet Division of Bangladesh. Their total area is 23,590 ha and they have great ecological, economic, commercial and socio-economic importance due to the diversified resources they supply. However, the forests are commonly encroached on by local people who are perceived to be seriously depleting the resource. This paper deals with the socio-economic status of the people residing near these reed forests, and examines their dependency on the resources provided by the reed forests. A socio-economic survey, participatory rural appraisal and interviews were used to obtain baseline data of the reed forest resource and the local communities. The study reveals that the communities in the study region have higher income than other areas of Bangladesh. Most survey respondents have other occupations in addition to farming. The literacy rate is 28.8%. Among the illiterate, 68% engage in collecting reeds. Although the Forest Department has a management plan for sustainable use of the reed forests, encroachers receive backing from political leaders and local elites, so their eviction is difficult. In order to achieve long-term productivity and sustainability from the reed forests, this study recommends a strategy of developing an integrated joint management plan between the Forest Department and the local people.

Keywords: PRA; diversity loss; human encroachment; interview; wetland

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004

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