System Dynamics Modeling of Livelihoods and Forest Commons in Dryland Communities of Andhra Pradesh, India

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"The very poor, in drylands of India, survive because of vital ecosystem services from forest commons. Economic and environmental uncertainties, institutional variations governing ecosystems, and productivity of dryland cultivation intensify and complicate the linkages between household poverty and dryland forest commons. These economic ties to local ecosystems not only affect the biophysical properties of a forest commons but also how people organize their livelihoods at the household and community level that further influence local ecosystems. In this paper, we discuss system dynamics and it use and value in examining the interplay between forest ecosystems and livelihood strategies in a dryland village in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India. We do systems dynamic modeling with key stakeholders – the villagers, using traditional participatory action research techniques combined with group model building. This approach – Community Driven System Dynamics -- to derive data from actors to understand the structure of social-ecological systems and the behaviors they generate over time is innovative and holds significant value for understanding human and natural systems interactions. We will present the results from a community based system dynamics modeling research from a village in close proximity to a dry deciduous forest. Results will include causal loop and stock flow models of feedback mechanisms between livelihoods, forests, and exogenous drivers mediating the social-ecological systems. Simultaneous examination of changes over time in both the biophysical aspects of forest commons and the diversified livelihoods of forest dependent rural poor in India will 1) lend sharper insight into the linkages between human and forest ecosystems, and 2) point to high leverage points of intervention in such coupled social-ecological systems."



social-ecological systems, Andhra Pradesh, forests