Deforestation and forest degradation are occurring continuously and posing serious threats to forests and people worldwide. In Myanmar, poor regulation and unsustainable extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is affecting millions of hectares of natural forests; overexploitation of forest resources is one of the main drivers of forest degradation. Although evidence shows that the extraction of NTFPs results in forest degradation, there have been few studies on what drives rural people to depend on NTFPs and how to address these drivers in terms of policies and measures. Policies and measures are nationally enacted policies and actions that countries undertake to address the causes of deforestation and forest degradation. This study identifies which factors determine the dependence on NTFPs in forest-dependent communities. From these factors, we derived policy implications for the main causes of overexploitation of NTFPs to provide suggestions for developing policies and measures in the design of national Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies. Focusing on the Taungoo District as a case of dependence on NTFPs by local communities, we conducted a qualitative and quantitative data collection procedure based on interviewing households in the local communities. NTFPs contributed the most to total household income and the main types of NTFPs exploited were charcoal making and bamboo selling. Households with lower education level, less agricultural land, less income from off-farm activities, lived under the poverty line or used only charcoal were more dependent on NTFPs in the study areas. Poverty and fuelwood usage were factors affecting NTFPs dependence for landowners while rice insufficiency, off-farm income and fuelwood usage most affected the NTFPs dependence for landless people. The results suggested that national strategies for REDD+ should take into account local features such as income opportunities and land tenure in order to make local people cooperate with the government to avoid deforestation and forest degradation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited