|dc.description.abstract||Natural forest resources are an integral part of biodiversity for the livelihoods of rural communities. Studies have shown that natural forest products contribute significantly to maintaining livelihoods in developing countries. Reduced access to and the use of forest resources would greatly affect the welfare of rural households and increase wealth differentiation among them. Full understanding of livelihood dependency on natural forest resources is needed, particularly where most rural communities derive their livelihoods from nature-based enterprises.
The study examines how rural livelihoods are linked to the status of natural forest resources and how that link is impacted by changes in the forest driven by factors including climate change. Furthermore, the study examines the coping and livelihood adaptive strategies of rural households in response to climate change impacts in the studied areas (Bhekuphiwa and Mgangeni). Data were collected through key informant interviews, group discussion, participant observation and household questionnaire surveys. The survey data were collected from a total of 150 households, randomly selected from the above two areas. The proxy used to measure the dependence on natural forest resources was the proportion of forest income to total household income (relative share of household income that is derived from such natural forest resources). A logit-transformed OLS was used to examine the proportion response variable that represents dependence on natural forest resources. Furthermore, a multinomial logit model was used to examine the coping and livelihood adaptive strategies of rural households in response to climate change.
The empirical results indicated that forest income forms an integral part of the households' income. About 56% of the sampled households generated income from forest products. The average contribution of forest resources to household income in Inanda community was 26%. The empirical results indicated that off-farm incomes, employment income, vouchers from the ‗Wildlands project‘ pays in exchange for planting trees, assets values, changing of time and dates in visiting the forest for the collection of forest products and perceived average changes in temperature have significant impacts on rural livelihoods. Cluster 1, representing a livelihood adaptation strategy out of the forest sector, is the largest of the three livelihood adaptation strategies, representing 66% of the total sample of households. One-third of the sampled households indicated that they would adapt by starting small businesses. However, a livelihood
adaptation strategy seeking alternative forest or substitute forest products constituted 23.3% of the sample households. A no livelihood adaptation strategy constitutes the smallest cluster with only 10.7% of the sample households. These results imply that most of the sampled households reported to adapt to climate change out of the forest sector. The empirical evidence from this study indicates the choice of livelihood adaptation strategies is significantly influenced by gender of the household head, educational level of the household head, land size owned by household head, household income and perceived average changes in rainfall and temperature. The analysis of barriers to adaptation to climate change also indicated five major constraints. These are lack of information and agricultural inputs (seeds, water, and fertilizers), lack of finance, shortage of labour, shortage of land, and poor infrastructure. It can be concluded that sampled households can adapt through close interaction and intervention of government to address these constraints for sustainable welfare outcomes and poverty reduction.
The empirical results suggest the necessary policy measures that need to be taken to improve rural livelihoods in response to climatic change and make forest ecosystems more sustainable to lift the standard of living of people engaged in informal activities (such as forest products collection). This study recommends strong community-based resource management institutions. Furthermore, broad policy interventions are required for rural development including interventions such as securing and enhancing the natural resource base, designing participatory management and monitoring systems, and securing poor people's rights of use and access to natural resources. Government and community members should collectively treat adaptation to climate change as part of development.||en