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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Social-ecological and institutional factors affecting forest and landscape restoration in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh

Ahammad, Ronju; Hossain, Mohammed Kamal; Sobhan, Istiak; Hasan, Rakibul; Biswas, Shekhar R.; Mukul, Sharif A.


Bangladesh government has recently pledged to restore 0.75 million ha of degraded forestland as part of its commitment to the Bonn Challenge, however little is known about the potential challenges and opportunities involved in achieving that goal. Using secondary literature complemented by expert consultation and a field survey, we examined the outcomes and limitations of previous restoration programmes and identified key social, ecological and institutional aspects crucial for a successful forest restoration programme in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. The CHT region accounts for over a third of state-owned forests, and it supports a large part of the country's forest-dwelling ethnic populations, although most of the forestland is severely degraded. Our analysis revealed that past programmes had utilised participatory tree planting, horticulture and rubber-based agroforestry to restore degraded forestland and improve community livelihood in the CHT. However, past restoration programmes merely emphasised improving tree cover without considering the ecological functionality, biodiversity and carbon co-benefits of restored forests. The duration of these pro-grammes was also relatively short, and there was no clear plan for engaging local communities in the restoration activities beyond the programme period. Among other things, the local ethnic community's land rights issue remained unresolved and the participant's land ownership influenced their willingness to participate effectively in any restoration programme. Households with secured land rights had a more positive attitude towards participating in forestland restoration than those with unsecured land rights. Suitable acts and policies that would allow people to legally continue to use tree-based land in the regions (i.e. forest and land tenure rights) are also lacking. Future forest and landscape restoration (FLR) programmes may thus need to focus on improving the biodiversity and ecological functionality of those restored forests, resolving local people's forest and land tenure rights and involving them in site-specific restoration interventions. The engagement of local and regional-level multi-stakeholders in such an FLR programme is also essential for realising the restoration's multiple social and ecological benefits.


Ecological restoration; Social -ecological restoration; Forest and land tenure; Monoculture plantation; Community -based restoration; Sustainable development goals

Published in

Land Use Policy
2023, Volume: 125, article number: 106478

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Landscape Architecture
    Human Geography

    Publication identifier


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