People living in or near the forest are very important for conservation purposes. In some cases these people live from forestry products or make a living from the forest. At low population densities and using traditional low impact technology including controlled slash and burn practices, localpeople can live from the forest in a sustainable way without depleting the very resources they depend on. With increasing population including an influx of migrantsthe traditional sustainable way of agriculture as well as legal and illegal logging practices have led to severereduction of forested areas and to erosion. More people result in more forest destruction, floods, erosion, landslides and loss of soil fertility. To end this vicious cycle a solution must be found to provide alternative livelihood for the forest’s inhabitants and their dependents and to prevent outside human “predators” from entering and looting the forest.
Depending on the forest as poorly educated hunters and gatherers or marginal farmers often means spells of famine and chronic malnutrition. The creation of food security for the communities in forest areasshould therefore have the highest priority as it is a fundamental condition for sustainable use of natural resources. Without food security the pressure on the remaining resources will just increase until all is gone. Experience has shown that forest conservation can only succeed with the help of local inhabitants. Their support can only be secured when their stomachs are filled. Alternativelivelihood programs are part and parcel of the overall conservation effort.