Utilization of non-timber forest products in Bangladesh
Kar, Shiba P.
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The literature suggests that there is a strong relationship between non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and livelihoods of forest-adjacent communities. These forest resources have potential for meeting conservation and development objectives. The argument is that NTFPs can provide sufficient income and other livelihood benefits that reduce the need to convert forest to other uses. Very few studies in Bangladesh have looked at this issue. This study focused on villages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh where this diverse NTFPs sector is overlooked and discounted in national level forestry programs. Field data were collected through participatory methods including in-person household and market surveys focusing on five types of NTFPs. Initial results show that although a large portion of the forest adjacent communities depend on these NTFPs for their livelihood, including subsistence income, there is lack of market knowledge and commercialization initiatives. Emerging issues include the need for small scale entrepreneurship development initiatives, better market access with information and support, and policy and land reforms.