Forestry as safety net: Listening to the voices of the poor from 15 forest villages in India
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This paper argues that forests are safety nets for the poor. The study is based on PRA/PLA sessions in 15 villages in West Bengal, India. Based on people's perspectives and indigenous knowledge the paper uses a sustainable livelihoods (SL) framework to analyze factors contributing to poverty. The authors link non timber forest products (NTFPs) with reduction in vulnerability of poor groups. More than 80 percent depend on NTFPs. Forests, trees and common property resources (CPRs) provided a life-support system for the poor. The poorest groups include women-headed households and elderly women, and the ultra poor are the widowed, divorced, deserted, unmarried, and handicapped. Women's activities include things such as making and selling of sal leaf plates, growing vegetables, backyard poultry and eggs, bamboo craft etc. The authors recommend ways to enhance food security, enrich livelihoods-related activities for women user-groups and also for conserving bio-diversity.