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Forests, women and health
Opportunities and challenges for conservation
Health issues of forest women in developing countries merit more serious attention. This paper reviews existing literature on the interface of women, health and forests to highlight conservation opportunities and challenges. Most women in forests are collectors and users of forest species. However, existing conservation efforts, deforestation, poor health services and household responsibilities can intensify health and safety concerns for forest dependent women. Women are likely to bear the strenuous burden of carrying fuelwood (and other forest products) long distances and inhaling smoke while cooking. The burden of unintended childbearing, diseases and cultural issues can compound their health problems. To improve local livelihoods and environments, some organisations have initiated activities that integrate conservation and human health objectives, including family planning. This article provides project examples, where the involvement of women has been identified as a key component in effectively meeting both conservation and development goals.