Regional Sustainability ›› 2023, Vol. 4 ›› Issue (4): 441-452.doi: 10.1016/j.regsus.2023.11.002

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Impact of forest governance and enforcement on deforestation and forest degradation at the district level: A study in West Bengal State, India

BASU Aishwaryaa,*(), Prakash BASU Jyotishb   

  1. aUniversity of Burdwan, Burdwan, 713104, India
    bWest Bengal State University, Kolkata, 700126, India
  • Received:2023-01-26 Revised:2023-08-20 Accepted:2023-11-12 Online:2023-12-30 Published:2024-01-09
  • Contact: BASU Aishwarya


According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the world loses 1.0×106 hm2 forest land through deforestation annually. About 1.6×106 people who depend on forests for livelihood are negatively affected by deforestation and forest degradation. The paper attempts to study the impact of forest governance, enforcement and socio-economic factors on deforestation and forest degradation at the local level in West Bengal State, India. The study was based on questionnaire survey data during 2020-2021 collected from three western districts (Purulia, Bankura, and Paschim Medinipur) where deforestation and poverty rates are higher than other districts in West Bengal State. The total number of selected villages was 29, and the total sample households were 693. A stratified random sampling technique was used to collect data, and a questionnaire was followed. Forest governance and enforcement indices were constructed using United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) methodology and a step-wise logistic regression model was used to identify the factors affecting deforestation and forest degradation. The result of this study showed that four factors (illegal logging, weak forest administration, encroachment, and poverty) are identified for the causes of deforestation and forest degradation. It is observed that six indices of forest governance (rule of law, transparency, accountability, participation, inclusiveness and equitability, and efficiency and effectiveness) are relatively high in Purulia District. Moreover, this study shows that Purulia and Bankura districts follow medium forest governance, while Paschim Medinipur District has poor forest governance. The enforcement index is found to be highest in Purulia District (0.717) and lowest for Paschim Medinipur District (0.257). Finally, weak forest governance, poor socio-economic conditions of the households, and weak enforcement lead to the deforestation and forest degradation in the study area. Therefore, governments should strengthen law enforcement and encourage sustainable forest certification schemes to combat illegal logging.

Key words: Deforestation, Forest degradation, Forest governance index, Enforcement index, Illegal logging, Logistic regression model, India