Fantaye Teklemariam, Desyalew (2021) Investigating the contribution of forests to the livelihood of rural communities. A Focus on Households in Sheko Woreda, Southwest Ethiopia. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Households from rural areas of Southwest Ethiopia are often dependent on the services and products provided by the forest and its biodiversity. Thus, a huge number of forest-dependent communities have been exploiting a range of socio-economic, environmental, and cultural benefits from the forest ecosystem. However, the sustainability of these benefits is threatened by over-utilization. The level of exploitation is dependent on the livelihood capitals, the institutional arrangements, and the external environment in which people are living in.

In response to empirical gaps in our knowledge, this exploratory study aimed to understand the contribution of forests and Participatory Forest Management (PFM) institutions to the total income of the forest-dependent communities, and the challenges of forest-based income diversification under the existing means of sustainable livelihoods. Different literature is reviewed to show how rural communities are managing their livelihood and forests are contributing to the communities' livelihood strategy. Field data were collected from systematically selected 60 households through a face-to-face, semi-structured questionnaire. The collected data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 software for descriptive and cross-tabulation analysis. Excel Microsoft was used jointly for graphic presentation of results.

The findings showed on-farm activities offer the main livelihood diversification means (80%), and forest-related incomes are contributing 51.8% of the total household income, but significantly dominated by single forest product (forest coffee). The forest-based income is not well diversified enough due to a lack of human capital, market link, and market value promotion for different forest products. The role of PFM in sustainable forest biodiversity conservation was found significant, but needs institutionalising as an approach. Thus, local government should work intensively to increase the value of the forest to maintain sustainable forest conservation and the wellbeing of the forest-dependent communities.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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