Unsustainable land use systems in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have damaged the environment and enhanced vulnerability of indigenous people. Promoting improved land use in degraded and abandoned shifting cultivation areas has been widely suggested for better livelihoods and environmental conservation. This article analysed four major land uses, agroforestry, fruit orchards, shifting cultivation and village common forest (VCF), in the CHT by correlating them with local perceptions. Traditionally, the indigenous people of the CHT are dependent on shifting cultivation and VCF for their livelihood. Agroforestry and orchards are newly introduced land uses in the CHT area. This analysis is performed by using the Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) approach in combination with the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). The introduction of agroforestry and fruit orchards influenced marginalised indigenous people to reduce the shifting cultivation area. However, potential weaknesses and threats were associated with shifting cultivation, agroforestry and fruit orchards. Except for shifting cultivation, the positive factors of other land uses outweighed the negative ones. The AHP results indicate that while adopting a land use, the respondents prioritised economic benefits (75 % preference) over social (17 %) and environmental aspects (8 %). Considering these three factors, people ranked four land uses in the order of orchards > agroforestry > VCF > shifting cultivation. This suggests that future land use planning in the CHT cannot secure sustainability by mere trade-offs among the three sustainability factors (social, economic, environmental). Instead, if the activities for achieving social and environmental benefits of a project can be employed to create benefits in terms of income or savings (money/effort/time), they will be well accepted by the marginalised rural communities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science