1Department of Forestry, Faculty of Forestry Sciences, Agricultural University of Tirana, 1029 Kodër-Kamëz, Tirana
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The transfer of forest management responsibilities from central to local government is considered one of the most important reforms in the forestry sector in Albania since 1996. The reform was deepened in 2014 when the property rights for around 80% of the total forested area of the country were transferred to 61 Local Government Units (Municipalities). This transition of ownership was thought to bring forests closer to local communities who have been traditionally using these resources for their family needs. Although the forest decentralization processes are being implemented for the last 20 years in Albania, there is little empirical data on the role of forest resources in livelihoods of the local communities. The aim of the study was to evaluate the economic contribution of forest resources to total household income and their role in income inequality. Two administrative units in Dibra and Bulqiza municipalities were selected for the study. A total of 160 households, randomly selected, were interviewed using a semi – structured questionnaire. The study found that income from off-farm activities was the most significant for the households, contributing around 53 % of total household income. While, agriculture contributed 20 %, livestock 18 %, and forestry 9%. Firewood constitutes the largest proportion of forest generated income, utilized mainly for family needs related to heating and cooking. Further, to describe the effects of forests income in the distribution of incomes and inequality for the interviewed households, Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve were used. The result shows that forest products play an important role in reducing inequality in income distribution among rural communities.
Keywords: forest decentralization, local communities, household income, forest income, inequality.