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Non Timber Forest Products and Biodiversity Conservation - A Study of Tribals in a Protected Area in India

Authors
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Economics

Abstract

This study analyses the economics of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and the economic values appropriated by tribals in a protected area in India. Using primary data covering a cross section of tribals in the Nagarhole National Park (NNP), South India the stud y notes that the economic values appropriated by the tribals are quite high. Even after including external costs (i.e. wildlife damages costs and defensive expenditures to protect against wildlife attacks) the Net Present Value of NTFP benefits derived by the tribal households was over Rs 30,378 per household (at 12% discount rate for cash flows summed over 25 years). Interestingly when the external costs borne by third parties (i.e., coffee growers) are taken into account the net NTFP benefits turned negative. In other words, although from the NTFP extractors viewpoint NTFP extraction is a viable activity, from the society's viewpoint this is not so. The estimated net NTFP benefits from NNP after including the external costs borne by NTFP extractors was estimated at between USD 33.5 to 167.5 per ha per year using alternate assumptions regarding the park's catchment area. The tribals have a positive attitude towards biodiversity conservation. Asked to justify and rank the reasons why biodiversity needs to be conserved, the tribals emphasized its livelihood and ecosystem fun ctions. Using contingent valuation method, the study notes that those with income from coffee estates and forest employment, and those residing in the core zone of the national park are less willing to accept compensation and relocate outside the national park. The study suggests improving the incentive structure in order to obtain the support and participation of tribals in biodiversity conservation strategies.

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