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Aims: The study explored the role of Komolchari Village Common Forest (VCF) of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh in the development of the socio-economic condition of the local communities and their perceptions about VCF conservation and management.
Study Design: The research is conducted through rigorous literature review and semi-structured household interview of the associated communities of the study area.
Place and Duration of Study: The study was done in three villages around Komolchari VCF from February 2014 to January 2015. It is located in sadar upazila of Khagrachhari hilly district.
Methodology: We selected the households through simple random sampling. The households were categorized into three groups based on their socio-economic status. Results were presented together as there were no significant differences between datasets obtained from the three villages.
Results: Agriculture is the major occupation of the poor, whereas medium and rich peoples were doing business and service. Forest products i.e. fuel-wood, pole, bamboo, wild fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants are regularly collected by the poor in a higher amount than that of medium and rich socio-economic groups. The study indicated 74% of the poor households extracted their necessary fuel wood from the VCF. Forest dependency showed that 31% households receive more than 40% of total annual income from the VCF. Traditionally, the VCF has been managed by the communities, but presently they formed a organization for management. Interventions of government and non-government organizations rose mass awareness about forest, biodiversity, and environment, which made them feel responsible for VCF management and conservation. Thus, 85% people expressed their interest to participate in the conservation initiatives.
Conclusion: Poor dwellers are more dependent on the Komolchari VCF as they extract more forest resources than the higher income groups. Thus, poor might be the major target group for further development to reduce their forest dependency.
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