There has been widespread assertion of the fact that traditional state laws on protected area conservation can pose a threat to the customary collective rights of local communities inhabiting these areas, inducing livelihood vulnerabilities. Within contemporary academic discourse, thus, there remains a major question concerning the issue of institutionalising the non-marketable customary collective rights of local communities to address the asymmetrical power relationships in natural resource distribution conflicts. Against this backdrop, a study conducted in the Sundarban forest region of West Bengal explores the community-based natural resource management paradigm and how customary rights of the local communities have fared under the joint forest management programme. It examines the applicability, as well as the successes and limitations of the programme as an alternative to state-led top-down models of conservation, and the impact of political and economic control over people and resources.
Community-based Natural Resource Management in the Sundarbans