Because of illegal logging, increased population pressure and intensified shifting cultivation, forest coverage of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) has decreased drastically resulting in land degradation. Many development projects have been implemented to combat forest loss and land degradation and also to improve the livelihoods of the hill people. This paper reports an empirical study of the Upland Settlement Project (USP) of Bangladesh which was undertaken to prevent land degradation and enhance the standard of living of the people. Planters were found to have given up shifting cultivation and adopted soil conserving agroforestry practices, and forest coverage has been increased in the project village. Interacting with project staff members, government officials and NGOs assisted planters in diversifying livelihood strategies thereby reducing dependency on project resources. Rich planters, utilizing their own capacity, expanded their income sources successfully. Poor planters still remain wage labourers because they do not have sufficient finance and networks to invest in productive ventures. Planters' participation in project activities and the information flow between them and project staff were found to be minimal. Suggestions are made for the continuity of project functions, which involve greater participation of planters in rubber management functions, improved information flow, resolution of land tenure and greater equality in distribution of rubber revenue.
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