Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 472

Structure and Functions of Social-Ecological Systems:
A Case Study From Indian Sundarbans

Sneha Biswas



The term social-ecological system (SES) is used to define the interactions or interlinkages between the social system and the ecological system of an area. Indian Sundarbans, which can be considered as an integrated SES, is rich in biodiversity and is also home to more than 5 million people. The present study is a micro-level analysis of the above-mentioned SES. Therefore, four villages (Madhya Gurguria, Debipur, Satjelia and Rangabelia) from two blocks (Kultali and Gosaba) of Indian Sundarbans were selected and a primary survey was conducted with the help of a suitable questionnaire. Results from the study show that there is a high dependency here on agricultural, fishing and livestock resources. Dependence on multiple resources for income generation is the norm in the village ecosystem. But this, in turn, is increasing the pressure on existing resource base. Thus, the paper tries to analyse the micro-level perspective of resource use and resource flow in Indian Sundarbans. The present paper suggests that there is need for a robust framework endorsing inclusive and participatory role of all the stakeholders in resource management which will ensure the sustainability of both resources and livelihood of people living in the SES of Indian Sundarbans.

Working Papers