“Getting more money is the sole incentive”: Incentives for forest conservation

Direct income from forests as an incentive for conservation

By Prof. V Santhakumar (Azim Premji University)

February 23, 2024 Read the full post here | View all posts by vsanthakumar >>

I was visiting Dayak villages in the Sintang regency of West Kalimantan (Borneo) last week. Despite the expansion of palm oil plantation in lands leased out by the government and also in private lands, there are communities which continue to use and protect forests there. These wet-tropical forests provide a variety of products which enable these communities not only to meet their subsistence needs but also to earn a decent income to meet their growing requirements of money. […]  

It is not that getting more money is the sole incentive to protect forests by these communities. There is community cohesion and the life in these villages with their cultural attributes is meaningful to these communities. It is possible for one member of the community to take actions that may destroy forests but community pressure is adequate so far to prevent such actions. Hence the value attached to community life and culture is also enabling the protection of forests. […]  

There are challenges too. Youngsters in these communities are getting educated and migrating to cities. They may lose interest in activities (like the collection of ilippe nuts) which can generate income from forests. It is good if their migration leads to the non-use of forests, but a non-dependence on forests can also lead to their conversion for commercial purposes. […]  

There are positive externalities in forest conservation. Yes private individuals or for-profit actors can provide these externalities to some extent. But the crucial insight from economics that individuals and private firms may undersupply those goods and services which have positive externalities continues to be relevant for forest conservation. This is where the state has to play an important role. […]  

Source: “Direct income from forests as an incentive for conservation” on Economics in Action
URL: https://vsanthakumar.wordpress.com/2024/02/23/direct-income-from-forests-as-an-incentive-for-conservation/
Date Visited: 17 April 2024

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“The British established mode of forest governance imposed restrictions on local forest-dwelling communities. In 1860, the Company withdrew all access rights for using the forests (food, fuel, medicine and selling forest products) since the forests and forest-dwelling communities provided refuge to the rebels during the Sepoy Mutiny.” – Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation >>

“Tribal population was spread all over India and most of them occupied wild tracts, hilly and forested areas, away from more civilized centers. In 1880 their population was estimated at about seventy million. They had existed for centuries with their own social traditions and beliefs and subsisted on natural resources. They had preserved their near isolation and way of life until the British administration and policies made inroads into their territories.” – Subha Johari in Tribal Dissatisfaction Under Colonial Economy of 19th Century >>

“Tribal communities have proven that they are the best guardians of the forest and die-hard conservationists”: Illegal mining destroys the life and culture of the conservators of forests >>

“Even though they are responsible for protecting the largest part of the global forest heritage […] a third of indigenous and community lands in 64 countries are under threat due to the lack of land tenure rights.” – Pressenza Rio de Janerio in “Indigenous people are heading to CoP26: ‘There is no solution to the climate crisis, without us’” (Down To Earth, 1 November 2021) >>

Usage in legal and historical records

“Two main streams within Indian anthropology influenced the literary and visual representations of tribes by mainstream writers, artists and film-makers.” – Dr. Ivy Hansdak clarifies how they are associated with “assimilationist” and “isolationist” positions or policies >>

In Marginalised but not Defeated, Tarun Kanti Bose (a seasoned public interest journalist) “documents the hard and difficult struggle to implement the Forest Rights Act, how the oppressed adivasis have united into forest unions, how they are now entering into new thresholds of protracted struggles and victories in a non-violent manner.” | Learn more: https://countercurrents.org/2023/05/book-review-marginalised-but-not-defeated >>

“Tribal men and women mix freely, but with respect for each other [but] caste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.” – Guest Column in India Today >>

Learn more about colonial policies, the Forest Rights Act, its importance for ecology, biodiversity, ethnobotany and nutrition, and about the usage of Adivasi (Adibasi) communities in different states of India: in legal and historical records, in textbooks, scholarly papers and the media >>