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

The very poor, in drylands of India, survive because of vital ecosystem services from forest commons. Economic and environmental uncertainties and institutional variations governing ecosystems 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. We applied system dynamics modeling to examine forest ecosystems and livelihoods 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. Simulation results replicate the dynamic behavior of fuelwood availability over time as perceived by the community. It also shows that new institutional arrangements regarding extraction of fuelwood work however only address the symptom and shift the pressure of resource demand to adjacent areas. Participating in National Rural Employment programs helps reduce the dependency on fuelwood for income however the domestic need for energy still drives the extraction of fuelwood. The extended non-simulating model shows the endogenous mechanism of implementation of the new institutional arrangements.