Poverty, sustainability, and household livelihood strategies in Zagros, Iran
The study addresses the two intertwined challenges of rural poverty and forest degradation in rural areas of Zagros, Iran. For a watershed in Zagros, a quantitative analysis based on the sustainable livelihood framework approach is used to identify household livelihood strategies, analyze livelihood choices, and investigate which strategies are most sustainable. The study revealed that most households (64%) follow a mixed strategy with a combination of forestry, animal husbandry, and subsistence agriculture. Households following a livelihood strategy that is highly dependent on forest extraction and livestock grazing (27%) are the poorest, whereas those that combine cultivation of commercial crops with non-farm work (9%) are able to earn higher incomes. The results also give some evidence of an Environmental Kuznets Curve: households that both adopt a mixed strategy and fall into the middle-income category are responsible for the highest overuse of forest resources and pasture. Since the end of 1980s, a number of households have shifted from a strategy based on forest and livestock to a strategy of mixed practices. An increasing share of households is adopting a strategy of non-farm and/or commercial practices, as well as outmigration to urban areas.
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