ASSESSING FOREST RESOURCES AND THEIR ROLE IN FOSTERING SUSTAINABLE RURAL LIVELIHOODS: AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE SUB-DIVISIONS OF DARJEELING HILLS, WEST BENGAL
Promoting sustainable rural development through the utilization of natural forest resources holds significant potential for enhancing rural livelihoods. It is imperative not to disregard issues concerning forest resources and their impact on rural livelihoods when making policy decisions and implementing interventions. Therefore, it is essential for various agencies to take proactive measures to ensure the efficient and responsible utilization of forest resources, as this stands as an effective means of enhancing the well-being of rural households. The study also underscores the lack of attention given to the cultural, traditional, and environmental value of forest resources in the Darjeeling hills. Awareness programs conducted by both governmental and non-governmental organizations in the study area are limited. Furthermore, some communal areas created through land reform processes often need to pursue their development independently, facing minimal or no external assistance. It has been observed that rural households employ a variety of livelihood strategies beyond agriculture and forestry income. Active involvement of local communities is pivotal in achieving sustainable development objectives.
Forest Resources, Rural development, Sustainability, Darjeeling Hills, Rural Community, Forest Community, Rural Livelihood.