Village Common Forests in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Balance between Conservation and Exploitation
Indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) of Bangladesh are managing forests around their homesteads in a sustainable way despite exclusion of customary rights on government managed reserved forests. Bangladesh, as one of the forest poor countries in the world, iscontinuously struggling to conserve its forest resources. However, community managed Village Common Forest (VCF) represents an influential model of forest management, serving multi-functions to the dependent indigenous communities. The current study was conducted in the 12 VCF areas of Rangamati and Bandarban districts in CHTs employing semi structured interviews to the members of Forest User Group (FUG). The study found that VCFs are enriched with more biodiversity than that of Government forests. Moreover, indigenous management of resources in VCFs were sustaining a balance between exploitation and conservation. Finally, the study suggests that for halting degradation of forest resources in Bangladesh, VCF could be used widely as an effective tool.