Indigenous knowledge in natural resource management by the hill people: A case of the textitMro tribe in Bangladesh


The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) region of Bangladesh, covering a considerable portion of hill forest type of the country, is rich in biological diversity; in terms of flora, fauna and ethnicity. A number of aboriginal and tribal communities enrich the cultural heritage of the region. Thanchi upazilla (sub-district) of Bandarban district in the CHTs is the remotest forested area where some tribal groups still lead their subsistence life depending fully on natural resources. This exploratory study was conducted to document indigenous knowledge (IK) employed by the Mro tribe in their everyday activities, highlighting traditional utilization of forests and other natural resources. A total of 36 farms were assessed using different participatory appraisals through semi-structured questionnaire. The respondents were peasants who live on the hilltops in a pristine environment, inside the high ranges of hills and dense forest almost totally beyond the eye-sight of the outer civilized society. They developed IK of their own in practising shifting cultivation (Jhum) and other land use systems along with the utilization of natural resources. In most cases, such IK has become key factors in the sound management of their forest resources with sustainable utilization of biodiversity. But most of the wealth of their IK is being threatened by the settlement of the non-tribal people in the CHTs region. The life style and ethno-forestry perception regulated by IK governing the daily activities of the ethnic communities need to be explored in order to conserve them and to assess the possibilities for conserving the forest resources by utilizing such traditional indigenous concepts.

Forests, Trees and Livelihoods