• Rural livelihoods are intrinsically connected with seasonal climate fluctuations.
• Rural livelihoods get more economic benefits from the local ecosystem services (ES) during monsoon and post-monsoon months.
• Livelihoods of ES dependent are vulnerable in the pre-monsoon season.
• Communities are increasingly diversifying their livelihood strategies to non-ES sectors.
• Non-ES dependent livelihoods enjoy increasingly better economic security.
Ecosystem Services (ES) are climate sensitive, vary by seasons, and support the majority of people’s livelihoods in Bangladesh. Our research aimed to identify short-term (seasonal) and long-term (2000–2018) qualitative and quantitative dependence of rural livelihoods on ES in the southern wetland areas of Bangladesh. Primary data were collected through 162 household questionnaire surveys conducted in the six sub-districts of southern wetland of Bangladesh. The research developed two dependency indexes for two major groups of livelihood activities of the study area, known as the Dependency Index of Ecosystem Services (DIES) and the Dependency Index of Socio-Economic Activities (DISE). The results showed that the majority of the households were dependent on different ES-based activities, for example, agriculture, for their livelihood. The results further demonstrated that (i) ES-based households were predominantly dependent on post-monsoon seasons for a majority of their financial benefits, (ii) households had been increasingly reliant on diversified Socio-Economic (SE) activities for their financial benefits, and (iii) there had been development of gradual income disparities between ES and SE livelihood activities. The results suggested that given the potentially volatile nature of climatic variables in southern Bangladesh, ES-based households might face increasing livelihood risks of crop failure and prolonged seasonal poverty in the pre-monsoon seasons. The results also implied that diversified non-ES livelihood activities could be an effective tool to reduce household’s dependence on already strained local ecosystem services. The research also highlighted the necessity of considering the seasonality impacts on rural livelihoods for ensuring sustainability of the rural social-ecological system against environmental adversaries such as climate change.
Nazmul Huq, Rui Pedrosoa, Antje Brunsb, Lars Ribbea, Saleemul Huq