Impact of Conservation Measures over Mangrove Forest-dependent Community: A Qualitative Study Using Human Rights Lens
Noor Kutubul Alam Siddiquee
Subject: Arts & Humanities, Anthropology & Ethnography Keywords: conservation; biodiversity; human rights; livelihood; forest-dependent community; impact
Background and Research Highlights: Despite all the concerns and initiatives, natural resources like forests, as well as biodiversity are decreasing at an alarming rate worldwide. Conservation is considered as one of the major tools to prevent such loss and rapid degradation. Evidence around the world shows the adverse effects of conservation laws and policies on indigenous peoples and other local communities. Objectives: This study was conducted in one of the forest-dependent communities situated in Sundarban (world’s largest mangrove forest) to understand the impact of conservation laws and policies on their livelihood. Materials and Methods: A qualitative methodology was designed to collect data, using focus group discussions and case study with community people, and individual interviews with the personnel from NGOs and relevant government departments. Findings: Strict conservation policies and restrictions in accessing forest resources made lives and livelihoods of the local community insecure and unstable, thus putting the community in a vulnerable situation. The had to leave their traditional mode of income and look for alternative livelihood options. Almost no evidence was found in relation to upkeeping their rights in conservation activities. Prohibited movement, provision of punishment for entering into the forest without proper permission and struggles in everyday life were some of the highlighted issues. They had no participation in conservation activities, management of alternative livelihood options, and even they were not sensitized before putting restrictions. Although they had a history of emotional and physical attachment with the forest, existing activities did not consider these issues. In addition, corruption and abuse of power by law enforcement agencies towards the local community intensified the sufferings. Conclusion: This study argues that the realization of human rights in conservation activities and the sensitization of the implementing stakeholders are prerequisites for ensuring the sustainability of both biodiversity and the affected people.
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