An exploratory survey of the Khasia tribe in Sylhet district of Bangladesh was carried out to investigate their socio-economic conditions, hill farming practices and impacts on rural livelihood and forest conservation. Farmers were classified into three categories based on their mean monthly income. Eight households were selected at random from each category in each village. Field data were collected by interviewing 72 farmers from three villages and visiting their farms. Farmers were asked about their family size, education, landholdings, occupation, housing, income and income sources, hill farming practices and division of labour in farming activities. Officials of the Forest Department were interviewed to explore the impacts of the farming system on forest conservation.The lives of the Khasia people are centered on the hills and hill resources. Their economy is basically forest based, using simple traditional technology. Their principal occupation and source of livelihood is betel leaf based hill farming. Besides providing income and employment opportunities, this type of farming plays an important role in the conservation of the forest and its floral diversity.A buoyant market for betel, ease of establishment and maintenance and the regulation of different tree age-classes make it a sustainable production system that assists in conserving biodiversity and might be adapted for use elsewhere.
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