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Abstract

In 2000, household heads of three villages located in or near forests in the south of West Bengal, India, were interviewed using a structured questionnaire1. The questionnaire is attached as an Appendix to this paper. The questions asked were designed to provide information about the extent of the dependence of households on state forests for their livelihood (cash income and subsistence needs), any differences in the degree of their forest dependence according to gender, threats to the sustainability of forest resources, the expected sustainability of the income of villagers from forest resources, as well as to provide data about forest management practices, such as a joint forest management. The latter involves cooperation between villagers and the West Bengal Forest Department. The villagers undertake to protect trees in their nearby state forest from pilfering in return for a quarter of the net income from sales of commercial timber by the Forest Department. An overview and assessment and general results of the surveys can be found in Clem Tisdell, Kartik Roy and Ananda Ghose, “Villagers and the Use of Conservation of Indian Forests: The Role of Joint Forest Management”, Social Economics, Policy and Development, Working Paper No.17, June 2001. The purpose of this present paper is to provide more detailed data summaries. The data are provided firstly for the three villages combined then for each individual village (Atabanda, Barabugpichla and Chandmura). All the villagers surveyed belonged to the Santal scheduled tribe. These three villages are located in the north Midnapore region north of Salbani, with Chandrakona Road being the nearest township. The general location of the survey area is indicated in Figure 1.1. The total sample consisted of 96 household heads, representing virtually all families in the villages of Atabanda (32 household heads). Barabugpichla (29) and Chandmura (35). The particular location of these villages is shown in Figure 1.2. Of these villages, Chandmura was most closely associated with the Arabari forest that, as mentioned earlier, was the scene of the earliest experiments with joint forest management in India.

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