Bangladesh is experiencing deforestation within its protected forest areas (PAs). One reason for its inability to stem deforestation is the lack of a proper understanding of the deforestation process and the drivers responsible for it. This study aims to elucidate the socioeconomic factors influencing deforestation within a PA on the coast of Bangladesh known as Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS). In the quest to understand the drivers of deforestation, the extent of community involvement in the deforestation process was explored. The local community was grouped based on their involvement in various deforestation drivers. These groups were then compared to determine the socioeconomic factors influencing the likelihood of their involvement in deforestation. The community survey covered 10% of households in the community surrounding TWS and involved interviewing 5769 household heads. This study found that 2150 households (37% of all surveyed households) were engaged in fuelwood collection, 623 (11%) were encroaching on the TWS, and 506 (9%) were cultivating betel leaves. Therefore, 45% of households were engaged in some form of deforestation driver. Among the socioeconomic factors, new households with small properties had a higher likelihood of being involved in deforestation drivers. Moreover, comparatively poor households had a significantly higher probability of being engaged in deforestation. Regarding occupations, farmers and laborers had a higher likelihood of being associated with deforestation. This study sheds light on the complex interplay of socioeconomic factors influencing the deforestation process occurring within a specific PA in Bangladesh under existing forest policies. This understanding can be useful for policymakers and forest managers in developing effective forest policies and managing forests more sustainably.
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