Socio-Economic Impact of the Ban on Timber Felling in Arunachal Pradesh, North-Eastern India

A. Arunachalam, Kusum Arunachalam


In the north-eastern India, timber-trade not only provides direct benefits (timber and fuel wood) but also supports livelihoods of a numerous people who traditionally depend on forest resources. Nonetheless, it contributes to the national economy and GDP and creates considerable employment. In December 1996, the Supreme Court’s interim order imposed a ban on timber felling with the sole objective to moderate the exploitation of natural resources and to restore forest ecosystems. It is now felt that the ban on timber felling has adversely affected the socio-economic well-being of the people as well as the growing stock of forests. If the timber is not disposed off from forest areas in the rotation age, it harbours disease and insect infestations, thereby degrading the quality and its economic value. The ban has affected the economy of the State as its revenue has declined by ca. 60% (about Rs 1500 million annually). The ban has resulted in the closure of many saw mills and wood-based industries, and consequently, affected the employment for thousands of people. The prohibition to felling has promoted illegal utilization of forest resources, created social tensions and conflicts, and also may be linked to anti-social activities. The ban also affected the wildlife as the elephants engaged in transportation of timber in the logging area were deprived of their occupation and feeding pattern.

We conducted a survey in the fringe villages of Banderdewa Forest Division to assess the impact of ban on timber felling on the socio-economic status of the villagers. Most of the people are still unaware of the ban and still exploit the resource illegally. A few of them have switched over to horticulture and/or agroforestry, and some have migrated to other places in search of livelihoods. Whereas many of the economic impacts have been quantified, the social impacts have not yet been assessed. Therefore, we suggest that the ban on timber felling should be reviewed to properly address the socio-economic impacts. Guidelines need to be developed to regulate the timber-trade which als- holds promise for uplifting the economy of the local people in states like Arunachal Pradesh.


Tree Felling; Biodiversity; Forest Degradation; Livelihoods; Conservation


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