24 M. Hobley bility and risk. It is clear that households and individuals within households experience different levels of vulnerability and exposure to risk. This is particularly important in the assessment of the effects of forest quality change, as it has differential impacts within and between households. There are two main ways in which forests impact on livelihoods and reduce vulnerability: • as a safety net helping rural people avoid poverty and helping those who are poor to mitigate their poverty; • through their potential to lift some people out of poverty. For the sake of understanding the likely impacts of forest loss or restoration, it is useful to define people in terms of their vulnerability and their relationships with forests and forest products (see Table 4.1 for examples of impacts of degradation and deforestation on these different groups): • Extreme poor with very little or no capability for social mobilisation • Coping poor with little capability for social mobilisation • Improving poor with some capability for social mobilisation This typology helps to underline the importance of understanding the social situation of households and individuals. Attempts to address restoration in a social context, without recognising the differences that degrees of poverty have on people’s relative vulnerability and opportunities, most often at best ignore those in extreme poverty and at worst exacerbate their condition. Also important in this context are the different relationships that people have with forests which can usefully be categorised as37 : • hunters and gatherers, • shifting cultivators, • farming communities with inputs from the forest, and • livelihoods based on commercial forest product activities. 37 Byron and Arnold, 1997. Poverty is not a uniform experience for these four types of forest-related people, and neither is it possible to say, for example, that all shifting cultivators are extremely poor or that all farming communities are “improving poor.” This makes it even more difficult to generalise about the impacts that forest change will have on individual livelihoods.Within the same community, dependence on forests and wildlands will vary, although generally the extremely poor will be the most dependent on the resources from natural habitats and the improving poor will be less dependent. However, those whose livelihoods are most interlinked with the forest resource, such as hunter-gatherer groups and shifting cultivators, are those who are the most vulnerable to any changes in that resource and are also the least able to move into other livelihood options. It should be noted that these are by no means static categories; they change as the local and national environment changes. For example, increasing market penetration has profound effects on the choices or enforced changes that people have to make in their livelihood base. The key point to recognise here is the diversity of the types of relationships that people have with forests and therefore the diversity of impacts that changes in forests and associated landscapes might have on the livelihoods of those living in and around them. 1.1. Relationships to the Forest It is also important to move away from a broad-brush consideration of communities to recognition of differences between individual households and categories of well-being. 38 Many people assume that communities have common interests or, where they are conflicting, that disagreements could be resolved by working with the different interest groups, but this is not always the case. This becomes particularly important when considering the impacts of changes in forest cover and quality and how this is experienced by different households. For some of the most dependent people, 38 de Satgé, 2002.
Table 4.1. Examples of impacts of deforestation and degradation. Impacts on people Process Product Extreme poor Coping poor Improving poor Deforestation Conversion of forests to Lose access to forest resources Lose access to safety net functions Lose access to safety net functions of agriculture Will not obtain land for agriculture of forest resources forest resources; may acquire land as generally do not have the May become labourers for others under clearance as have better power to acquire the land on converted forest land access to influence local decision May be labourers for others but making generally too marginalised 4. The Impacts of Degradation and Forest Loss on Human Well-Being 25 Degradation Foods: variety to diets, Diminishing access to foods, fuels, The importance of this range of With a more diverse livelihood palatability, meet and medicines make their products to the coping poor is portfolio with more assets and seasonal dietary livelihoods even more insecure two fold: (1) as a safety net, and opportunities for diversifying, this shortfalls, snack food, and more vulnerable to hazards; (2) as an income earner group is not so vulnerable to emergency foods in areas of high forest cover this to contributing household changes in forest condition; it is during flood, famine, group in particular is highly forest economies; for women, these more able to access alternatives war, etc. resource dependent and most are often the only source of to the forest products; nonetheless, Fuels: firewood, charcoal particularly affected by changes income that they are allowed its need for the safety net functions growing importance in access or reduction in quality to access and so although a of the forest remains, and without for urban as well as of forest; this range of products small proportion of overall it these households could become rural energy needs needs little or no capital household income, they are more vulnerable and less resilient Medicines: range of investment and is therefore of high gender significance to shocks traditional plant more readily accessible to the medicines essential to extreme poor those in remote rural areas distant from other medical services Timber Reduced access to timber usually This group, as for the extreme poor, With greater ability to take risk has little impact on this group is unlikely to benefit in any direct and invest in some relatively because they have little power way from the economic benefits low-cost technology such as to control access to high value of timber harvesting; although chain saws, this group can resources; benefits of timber because of their better social access some limited benefits are mostly captured by the networks and levels of well-being from timber harvesting; being elites often in urban centres they may have more opportunity better socially networked, this to be labourers for timber group is more likely to be contractors engaged as timber harvesters Environmental services Across all groups the environmental functions of forests are important for maintaining water supplies, inputs to agricultural productivity through improving soil fertility, and providing the range of biodiversity necessary to maintain a robust local ecosystem Degradation of environmental services is again most acutely felt by those For this group their more diverse who have no other options portfolio and higher levels of risktaking capacity means that they are more resilient to minor changes in environmental services. Adapted from work by Brocklesby (2004) and Hobley (2004) differentiating between forms of poverty dependent on vulnerability and capability to have a voice.