Introduction: Livelihoods, forests, and conservation

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Hundreds of millions of rural people live in forested areas in developing countries. Forests provide a wide variety of goods for use in households or to sell for cash income. Examples are timber, fuelwood, charcoal, rattan, game, fruits, medicinal herbs, and many other products. Forests are often particularly important to the poor, providing them with part of their means of subsistence. Forest products can be used to fill seasonal gaps in food or income derived from other activities, for example, during the interval between agricultural harvests. Forests can also provide a valuable "safety net," which is to say, a source of emergency sustenance during times of hardship, when crops have failed, when an economic crisis has hit, when war or conflict has broken out, or when floods have washed away homes.
Yet forests are under a great threat in developing countries. Clearing forests, either to make way for farmland or to exploit timber, may provide economic benefits, but deforestation and forest degradation sometimes undermine the ability of rural people to make a living and to subsist during hard times. At the same time, forest loss threatens biodiversity and the environmental services which forests provide.

DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.05.001
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