People's dependencies on forests
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Considering the role and importance of the forest to local people, what first strikes any visitor to the Bulungan research forest is the strong contradiction between talk and action. On one hand side the contribution of the forest to local people's livelihoods is widely acknowledged, on the other hand side forest people are willing to strike any deal with concessionaires as long as it proves lucrative. The surveys taken out in a dozen of villages and hamlets along the Malinau and Tubu rivers show that dependency on forest products for subsistence needs is still very high especially in the most remote settlements. Though nowadays the main staple is rice complemented with cassava, wild sago is still considered as a safety net in case of bad harvests. Most of the protein and fat intake are provided from hunting. However, among the numerous forest products available, only very few like eaglewood are cash-earning. Forest people depend more on available (and accessible) markets and on traders than on the bare availability of forest products. Nowadays, new opportunities have emerged for local communities. Collecting compensations and fees from concessionaires has proved to be a lucrative source of income. Especially in the less remote areas, people are facing new needs: education and health costs, electronic goods, leisure activities. Forest people want to become part of the modern world. Their increasing dependence on cash explains why they are ready to give away their forest.
- CIFOR Test Harvesting