Sustainable poverty alleviation through a forestry project in Tamilnadu State of India

Kaushal, K. K., et al., 2005. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology

Original research (primary data)
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The World Development Report 2000-2001 recommends action on three complementary and synergistic fronts for poverty alleviation – promoting opportunity, facilitating empowerment and enhancing security. This paper analyses the Tamilnadu Forestry Project, funded by US$100 million from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, for community forestry. The project was launched in 1997-1998 in this southern state of India and has evolved into a comprehensive poverty alleviation programme for the forest abutting villages where the proportion of poor people is largest. It endeavours to explain how the project provides the above three elements at the local level for sustainable poverty alleviation. Regeneration of forests, improvement of basic infrastructure through integration of line departments and promotion of alternate livelihoods provide ample economic opportunities. Establishment of Village Forest Councils, and delegation of sufficient powers to these Councils, has empowered the poorest of the poor. Tree assets, promotion of alternate income generation activities and water harvesting structures have provided security by reducing vulnerability to natural vagaries, particularly drought. In this project, the restoration of biodiversity and people development go hand in hand in a synergistic way that makes the project worth replicating elsewhere in the country and other parts of the world, with suitable modifications.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-113-1
  • Intervention type: Combination
  • Intervention description:

    combination of restoration and management Tamilnadu Forestry Project: degraded forest micro- watersheds, together with abutting hamlets, or habitation or revenue villages are selected. The forest area is divided into three zones – Lower or Utility zone, Middle or Asset creation zone and Upper or Eco-restoration zone. Normally, the area for all three zones is 250 ha, in which the zone-wise gap planting is taken up...In the forest area of around 250 ha of each micro- watershed, 77 000 saplings are planted, with delib- erate emphasis on non-timber forest products (NTFPs). The species used include Azadirachta indica, Phyllanthus emblica, Syzizium cumini, Tamarin- dus indica, Bassia latifolia, Terminalia bellerica. In addition, 25 000 saplings are distributed to the villages for growing on their own lands....The VFC members are given the right to collect NTFPs and a share in the final harvest.

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: Yes
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Loss of other ecosystem goods  Positive anectodal report on NFTP supply, author/implementor's own observations? No social assessment methodology reported
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Tamilnadu state

  • Country: India
  • Habitat/Biome type: Tropical and subtropical forests |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: effectiveness determined by qualitative assessment (anecdotal evidence) "Even last year, when the rainfall in the state was the lowest in a century, Neem tree seed collection proved to be a good source of income for the poorest of the poor."
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: Yes
  • Impacts for people: Positive
  • People measures: Anecdotal evidence that the project addressed the three pillars of poverty: opportunity, empowerment and security e.g. "Women’s empowerment is given due emphasis and one third of the Executive Committee posts are necessarily held by women. In each village, one or two women’s self-help groups are formed and are encouraged to undertake economic activities individually or jointly using credit from the buffer zone fund." e.g. "A visit to the forest villages is enough to gauge the palpable improvement in dwellings and living standards of the majority of families" e.g. "Restocked forests provide households with a means for diversifying their subsistence and income- generating activities, optimising their labour resources during different seasons"
  • Considers economic costs: Yes
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Qualitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: