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The importance of NTFPs in Bhutan

A study carried out under the Bhutan-German Integrated Forest Management Project (BG-IFMP) aims at understanding the role of non-timber forest products in Bhutan. Nahi was selected as the pilot area for the project as the Nahi Forest Management Unit (FMU) was approved in 1993 and is now being implemented. Nahi covers an estimated area of 7 645 ha, consisting of six villages and 103 households.

The study made the following important findings: about 107 plant species were identified and 22 species of edible mushroom were named; fuelwood and shingles are considered the most important NTFPs; adults generally ranked utility NTFPs higher - euli (Erioscripus comosus sp.) and eubay (Girardinia sp.), used for making ropes and cords, while children were more interested in cash NTFPs - mushrooms, wild asparagus, nakey (fern), orchids, etc.; the use of forest plants for medicinal purposes is not popular; on average, NTFPs constitute 23 percent of the total household diet and 19 percent of total household income; workforce level and landholding size were important in determining the percentage of household income derived from NTFPs; men know more about forest use than women, and are normally involved in heavy-duty work while women undertake lighter work; Nahi farmers know the ecological requirements and local management practices of certain NTFPs; the increase in tree and bush cover has led to the disappearance of grazing ground and wild asparagus, and to an increase in cover for marauding wild boar and deer.

In conclusion, the study states that more information is required if NTFPs are to be incorporated effectively into a multiple-use forest management plan. Research should address this by providing data on types of plant and animal species harvested from different forest types; information on stocks and extraction of NTFPs to determine harvest sustainability; marketing analysis from harvest to end user; and conducting case studies of the effects of the FMU plan implementation on local people. (Source: IUFRO Bulletin.)

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Brazil Nut Rich Forests Project

The Brazil Nut Rich Forests Project works for the conservation of Brazil nut-rich forests through the integration of science, policy and management. Brazil nut trees are a keystone resource that supports an elaborate and longstanding relationship between people and Amazonian forests. This is a field-based project that ultimately works with and for Brazil nut extractors. The goal of the project is to increase the economic and ecological viability of Castanhal as a natural forest management unit and thus provide a tool for conserving the biodiversity of large areas of the Amazon in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. The specific objectives of this project are to: i) develop a Brazil nut forest management system that is scientifically based, ecologically focused, economically and socially viable and to promote the institutional and governmental policies needed to support this management; and
ii) facilitate the information exchange of expertise on Brazil nut and forest resource knowledge across the borders of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

For more information, please contact
Mr Enrique Ortiz, Brazil Nut Rich Forests Project,
Amazon Conservation Team,
1804 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA.

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The Centre for Environment and Development (CED) is a Cameroonian NGO working in the field of forest resources management with a special interest in non-wood forest products. One of the centre's main objectives is to promote community-based forest resources management through community forestry. CED also has a special programme with Baka pygmies,

an indigenous people of the Cameroonian rainforest.

For more information, please contact
Messrs. Belmond Tchoumba and Samuel Nguiffo,
Centre pour l'environnement et le développement,
PO Box 8451, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Fax: (+237 22) 3859;

Sustainable exploitation of Prunus africana on Mount Cameroon

For more than 20 years, Prunus africana has been commercially exploited on Mount Cameroon by Plantecam, a medicinal plant company. There was no scientific basis for their exploitation quota of 1 500 tonnes per annum. Annual harvests increased from an average of 448 tonnes in the 1980s to almost 1 400 tonnes by 1995 and, recently, a small proportion was harvested by villagers for unlicensed contractors.

The Mount Cameroon Project (MCP) is a multilateral project implemented by the Government of Cameroon, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, the German overseas agency GTZ and the Global Environment Facility. MCP aims at promoting the sustainable conservation and utilization of forest resources in the Mount Cameroon area. It has, therefore, focused much attention and resources on the sustainable management of P. africana. Together with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MINEF), MCP carried out a 1 percent management inventory in 1996 to calculate sustainable exploitation quotas. The work made some alarming findings: 20 percent of stems inventoried were dead; 40 percent of living trees of exploitable size (>30 cm in diameter) had been excessively stripped and their productive capacity has been damaged for at least another ten years if not for ever; and 25 percent of the estimated standing stock of 37 000 live trees displayed signs of severe stress.

These data were used to estimate a sustained yield over the period 1996-2001 of about 300 tonnes of fresh bark per annum. These recommended quotas had already been lowered to 200 tonnes by 1998 because of overexploitation. As estimated sustained yields fall short of the company's requirements, Plantecam disputes the validity of both these estimates and the inventory. Therefore, a more detailed inventory was started in November 1998. However, statistical analysis by MCP of the 1996 data demonstrated that P. africana populations are unlikely to differ by more than about 50 percent from the 1 percent sample mean.

The recommended quotas will increase again once these populations recover from overexploitation, although this has been made unlikely by the renewal in April 1998 of Plantecam's licence with quotas of 1 500 tonnes per annum.

In 1997, MCP brokered a pilot agreement enabling villagers to harvest commercially under Plantecam's licence, reducing the desire of villagers to be involved in illegal exploitation, which is poorly paid and needlessly destructive. All that remains now is that the interested parties - Plantecam, MCP, local communities, MINEF - further develop the necessary institutional and management structures to ensure that quotas are respected and mutually agreed.

Sustainable and responsible management of P. africana gives Plantecam a real opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to pursuing commercial objectives without endangering the threatened species it depends on, or Cameroon's vital need to sustain income from its natural resources. (Contributed by:
J. Acworth, B. Njombe Ewusi and
N. Donalt, to the First International Symposium on the Conservation of Medicinal Plants in Trade in Europe, held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.) [See under Recent Events for more information on this symposium.]

For more information, please contact
Mount Cameroon Project,
PO Box 437, Limbe, Cameroon; or
FCO (Yaoundé), King Charles Street, London SW1 2AH, UK.
Fax: (+237 43) 1876;

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Overview of the naval stores industry in China

China is the world's leading producer of gum rosin and turpentine. Rosin production represents one-third of the world total and between 1949 and 1996 gum production exceeded 9 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes of which were exported. Unlike other major naval stores-producing nations which have decreased gum production in recent years, China has stepped up its output.

China has been producing gum rosin and turpentine since 1870. The naval stores industry was reorganized in 1926 when plants were built for the specific purpose of rosin and turpentine production. The founding of the People's Republic of China boosted production as the new government gave more emphasis to these products as key export commodities. Two policies were significant in ensuring the stability of the industry and the uniformity of product quality: a 1982 policy requiring a permit for people participating in gum collection as well as establishing minimum technical requirements; and, as from 1987, the Ministry of Forestry required permits for plants producing rosin, establishing minimum technical standards for rosin production.

While China is not a forest-rich nation (with a per caput forest area of only 0.11 ha), government reforestation and conservation programmes have improved the annual forest recovery rate to its current rate of 13.9 percent. Hence there are good prospects for future increases in naval stores-producing forests. However, much more effort is required.

Pine gum collection is very labour-intensive. It is estimated that more than 200 000 people are engaged in this activity in China. Labourers often migrate with their families close to the collection sites when the weather conditions improve. Collectors work long hours and in harsh conditions. An average of 2 to 3 tonnes are collected per worker during the season and each tree can produce about 2 to 4 kg of gum. Collection frequency is determined by gum flow, weather and location.

Most forest land in gum-producing areas is owned by local villages. Trees are often leased by landowners to individuals who may then sublease the trees for gum collection. Alternatively, an individual may bid for the whole season's gum production in a particular area for a fixed value. The bidder can subsequently offer plots of land to small collectors. However, the individual assumes all the associated risks in such a business arrangement.

The labourer sells the gum to rosin factories. Prices are conditioned by: international and national markets for rosin, weather, local economic balances as well as by markets for other agricultural products such as rice. These factors have caused gum prices to rise continually, directly affecting the higher cost for rosin production and, ultimately, higher export prices.

Factories employ three basic processes to produce gum rosin from pine gum: continuous steam distillation, batch steam distillation and direct fire. Over the past ten years or so, newer, larger factories have adopted the more efficient continuous steam distillation process, which contributes to more efficient production and better product quality control, thus helping to keep the products competitive. These factories currently account for about 60 percent of all Chinese gum rosin production.

The government has the authority to set equitable gum prices and profit margins for processors in order that the labourers' hard work is properly recompensed. It can also play an insurance role in the event of a natural disaster, helping to maintain a steady supply of gum to rosin factories. In addition, as local governments receive considerable revenue from taxation on rosin production, there is a strong incentive to support the industry while keeping local people employed and improving their income.Since 1994, the central government has adopted a new policy of export control, allowing organizations with both sales and production experience to participate in gum rosin exports. Under this new bid policy, exports of these commodities can be conducted only by the companies that were successful bidders for the limited number of export licences and quotas. The policy was designed to be totally competitive among interested parties; it is still at an emerging stage and more changes are likely. This new system should mean that the Chinese naval stores industry prospers and that global markets can be sustained.

However, despite the large volumes of rosin and turpentine available, China continues to lag behind other developed nations in industrial technology and production of upgraded products. At present, very few finished ink resins, adhesives and coating resins are produced. However, joint ventures recently formed with foreign companies should improve the production of upgraded rosin-derived products. Greater upgrading will have a definite impact on available quantities of rosin for export in the coming years.

In conclusion, the Chinese naval stores industry possesses good facilities for future development and is expected to increase production gradually until the year 2000. However, market prices have been pushed up by rising taxes, higher wages and the increased cost of raw materials. Markets need to be stabilized so that buyers and sellers have confidence in the future availability of rosin. In this way, given its predominant share in the world trade of gum rosin, China can play a stabilizing role on the world stage. (Source: Naval Stores Review, January/February 1998.)

Farmers' participation in the management of state-owned forests

Initiatives are under way to enhance farmers' participation in the management of state-owned forests in Jinggu county, Yunnan Province. State forests here account for more than 60 percent of forested area and timber volume is 76.5 percent of the county's total, with Szemao pine (Pinus kesiya var. langbianensis) as the main species. The wood is used in the building trade and furniture making, while pine resin contains turpentine oil. Resin collection provides an important source of income for local farmers.

The county government and forestry department helped enlist local farmer participation in the management and utilization of these forests, particularly for pine resins. Previously, management and utilization had been ineffective, resulting in the degradation of forest resources through fires, pest and disease incidence, illegal felling and forest clearing for agricultural conversion, etc. Nowadays, forest policy is more enlightened and forest production and utilization have been made more responsible by contracting out state-owned forest to farmers if certain conditions and regulations are respected and met. These regulations include control over grazing, resin collection and fuelwood collection. The contracted forest is managed by the farmers in line with a production responsibility contract. A system of rewards and penalties exists to ensure that contract conditions are met.

The new system of accountability has also enhanced women's participation in pine resin collection and forest management. The main reasons for this improved participation are fast economic returns, lighter work loads and fewer seasonal restrictions.

Farmers' participation in managing state-owned forest has brought about several positive impacts: improved management and protection to ensure that resin yields are constant; improved labour conditions and employment opportunities for surplus labour from agriculture; expanded forest coverage over previously degraded lands as a result of farmers' initiatives; better forest protection and fire control as a consequence of contract incentives and benefits; better income distribution and forest stability owing to the rapid returns from pine resin production and the early regeneration of pine stands; and greater economic benefits and infrastructure for the whole county as a result of downstream development of the resin-processing and service industry, also benefiting forestry administration and the timber industry in the long term.

However, several problems present themselves. Farmers are only marginally involved in timber harvesting and receive few benefits from this activity as they must sell to designated timber companies, which offer prices well below the market norm. Thus, less than 30 percent of farmers' income accrues from timber harvesting. The result is that little attention is paid to wood quality and appropriate silvicultural practices for timber species. Farmers do not wish to endanger their main source of income, i.e. non-wood production, and consequently adopt practices that favour pine at the expense of timber-producing species. The answer would be to allow farmers to benefit from the marketing of timber from state-owned forests, thereby providing them with an interest in silvicultural activities that optimize wood and non-wood production simultaneously. In this way, forest production and protection can also be reconciled.

Another related problem is the reduction in biodiversity in resin forests. Since the advent of farmers' participation, the proportion of broad-leaved tree species has gradually decreased as more and more forest has been converted to pure Szemao pine forest. Again, this is the result of the traditional farmers' practice of protecting and favouring pine trees, reinforced by the increased income now derived from resin. However, pine monoculture has increased the occurrence of pest and disease, negatively affecting the water, heat and light balance in forests and the conservation advantages that result from greater biodiversity. To remedy the situation, publicity and education activities should be strengthened to increase the ecological awareness of local farmers and managers in order to promote the combination of the immediate benefits and economic profits with long-term objectives and ecological improvement. Biodiversity conservation and protection should be taken fully into consideration in policy-making and policy implementation. (Source: Forestry and Society Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 2, May 1997.)

For more information, please contact
Mr Zhang Yanping, Research Institute of Resource Insects,
Kunming, Yunnang Province, China.


Seabuckthorn (Hippophae spp.) or shaji (its Chinese name) is a shrub or small tree with a wide latitudinal and altitudinal Eurasian range, from China through Russia to Europe, and from sea level in Europe to an altitude of 4 000 m in the Himalaya and Tibet.

Seabuckthorn has many uses: medicine, beverage, cosmetics and infusions. Its red berries are especially rich in vitamin C and oils, which are used for medicinal purposes. In the Russian Federation, seabuckthorn oil was used as a vitamin supplement in the diet of astronauts. In the 1960s and 1970s, high-yielding varieties of Hippophae spp. were developed as part of the USSR national space programme. Seabuckthorn has also been extensively planted in China for soil conservation and site rehabilitation because of its nitrogen-fixing ability and tolerance of extreme conditions.

Between 1986 and 1991, FAO, in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Forestry, carried out several studies within the framework of the Improved Utilization of Nitrogen-fixing Woody Species Project. Special studies were conducted through a subproject devoted to seabuckthorn dealing with provenance trials of seed collected from 19 different Chinese sources, representing four main groups. Seeds were planted at several field stations covering a wide range of conditions. Nine of the field stations successfully established and maintained the trials. Field measurements of the provenance trials showed clear and frequently significant differences between sites and between provenances within sites for many of the parameters, such as growth, survival, etc. Chemical composition of the fruit in terms of vitamin C and total sugar, acid and oil content also showed large and often significantly different results between provenances.

These studies were carried out by the Chinese Academy of Forestry and the International Centre for Research and Training on Seabuckthorn (ICRTS). The mission of ICRTS is to improve the environment and contribute to better health through the sustainable development and utilization of seabuckthorn resources worldwide by means of support to research, the international exchange of information (including technical publications and meetings) and technical training. In addition, ICRTS is the implementing agency of the UNDP project Seabuckthorn Development in China.

For more information, please contact
International Centre for Research and Training of Seabuckthorn,
20 Ba Dachu Road, Shi Jingshan District, Beijing 100041, China.
Fax: (+86 10) 68886142;

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An important element in the search for new NTFPs is the chemical analysis of identified products to assess their potential for development. For example, a potential product may be identified through its long history of traditional use, but its potential market cannot be assessed without investigating its major components, their variability (intra- and interpopulation) and their properties. For this reason, an agreement was recently signed between ProPeten/Conservation International (CI) and the Faculty of Chemical Sciencies and Pharmacy at the San Carlos University of Guatemala to offer opportunities to students to study potential NTFPs within the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

The aim of these studies is twofold: to give students the opportunity to know the subtropical forests and the communities that could potentially benefit from the development of the products; and for ProPeten/CI to benefit from the analytical facilities in the university's laboratories and obtain information on the chemistry and potential yields of the major components.Studies on Protium copal (Schlect. & Cham.) Engl. illustrate the advantages of this type of collaborative research. The resin of this species has a long history of traditional use, both ceremonial and medicinal, and an initial analysis revealed two major components: a lacquer and a wax. The former possesses a high degree of clarity and strong adhesive qualities while the latter is saponifiable and may be fungicidal. Thus the resin's potential market has already expanded and, although studies have been initiated into sustainable harvesting techniques, further studies of the resin's chemistry and biological activity have still to be initiated.

An important outcome of the studies is the provision of samples of the pure product or components for an assessment of their market potential by companies interested in natural products. The potential products have been selected on the basis of ethnobotanical interviews and biological and ecological studies. Studies of sustainable harvesting techniques and intra- and interpopulation product variation will then follow for those species that continue to show potential after the initial chemical studies.

Despite the fires which consumed large areas of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the impact of which on non-timber products has yet to be fully assessed, a funding proposal for a collaborative research project has been presented to a national institution, Consejo para Ciencia y Tecnología (CONCYT). This proposal is for an in-depth investigation of 12 species with potential as NTFPs (resins, essential oils, waxes and natural dyes). The investigators in this study will include university faculty and ProPeten/CI's ethnobotanist, biologists and foresters and the larger scale of this investigation will allow a more detailed chemical analysis of the products including isolation, identification and elucidation of the structure of the major components of each product and their biological and pharmacological activity. The results from student theses and the collaborative research, in conjunction with the biological and ethnobotanical information generated by ProPeten/CI's field staff, will provide all the information required to make an accurate assessment of a product's potential and will allow detailed information to be passed on to companies interested in natural products.

The agreement reached between San Carlos University and ProPeten/CI illustrates the value of collaborative research in the development of NTFPs, expanding research opportunities and strengthening research capabilities within a national university and, more important, offering research opportunities to national students, thus increasing their knowledge and understanding of the role of NTFPs in rural sustainable development. (Contributed by: Mr Simon Comerford, Eco-Empresas, ProPeten, Flores, Petén, Guatemala; fax: (+502 926) 0495; e-mail:

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Non-timber forest products provide important revenue for the mostly Amerindian people in North Western District of Guyana. Villages located outside areas where no gold mining or logging take place depend almost entirely on NTFP harvests for their income. Relatively few NTFPs are extracted commercially for export. Wildlife constitutes the most important product, yielding annual export revenues of more than US$2 million. Heart of palm is the most important plant product, followed by the aerial roots of Heteropsis flexuosa and Clusia spp., which are used in the furniture industry. Various medicinal herbs and barks are also exported in smaller quantities. Many NTFPs are used by local people for food, shelter (palm leaves), medicine (bush tea and crab oil), household items and to provide an income by selling them on local markets.

However, there are several problems associated with commercializing such products in North Western District: low prices paid for raw materials, inadequate organization among harvesters, high transport costs and a lack of basic information on NTFPs. A decline in plant and wildlife populations from overexploitation for the furniture and palm heart industries underlines the urgent need for a sustainable harvesting strategy for NTFPs.

These findings are the preliminary results of a Ph.D. research project at the University of Utrecht, "Non-timber Forest Products in the North-West District of Guyana". The research falls within the framework of the Tropenbos-Guyana Programme. (Extracted from: T. Van Andel. Commercial exploitation of non-timber forest products in the North-West District of Guyana. Caribbean Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Vol. 2, No. 1.)

For more information, please contact the author,
Tinde Van Andel, Herbarium Division,
Utrecht University,
PO Box 80102, 3508 TC Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Fax: (+31 30) 2518061.

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How much is a lot? An economic evaluation of the contribution of non-timber forest products to the tribal economy of Madhya Pradesh - a study of Raigarh and Surguja districts

A report from an FAO consultancy mission is serving as a background research paper to aid the design of a tribal development project to be supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Madhya Pradesh, India.

The main objectives of the FAO mission were to explore the dependency of tribal peoples on NTFPs in quantitative or value terms. An assessment was made of the economic value of various NTFP systems from four angles: i) the value of local consumption; ii) income from collection and sale; iii) the value of trade; and iv) the contribution of the indigenous processing sector. Subsequently, their relative contribution to the regional economy was estimated. Such economic valuations will provide more complete and comprehensive information on the types of forest, species within them, and the type of management and production system best suited to the requirements of people living near and in forests.

The following findings and recommendations were made: about 30 percent of the rural population in the two districts depend on NTFPs for about 20 percent of their income. Moreover, during the agricultural lean season, forest products contribute considerably to nutritional and health status, quality of life and the very survival of tribal families. The most important extracted products in this respect are fuelwood, fodder and various foods. Given this overwhelming dependence, immediate attention needs to be given to restoring and safeguarding forest resources.

A decline was noted in the productivity of certain salient NFTP types, such as bamboo, amla, chironji seed and mahul leaves. For bamboo craftworkers, this has led to a squeeze in their profit margins. In the case of amla, chironji and mahul leaves, harmful extractive techniques were blamed. Often the whole branch or plant was lopped off. Field interviews also indicated inadequate investments in the pruning of tendu leaves, affecting their quality and quantity.

To redress the situation, intensive community-based efforts are required and should include the following components: awareness raising, capacity building and training, community mobilization and participatory planning. In tandem, a certain degree of local ownership in local forests is urgently required. However, any community forestry project aimed at regenerating NTFPs should bear in mind the pre-eminence of fuelwood and grazing issues. These values were considered higher on the scale of rural needs than all NTFPs put together; hence, efforts to regenerate other NTFPs at their expense will probably fail and/or cause hardship to local people.

Regarding value-added processing, labour incomes and returns were low, even lower than the prevailing agricultural wage rate. Thus only the very poor resort to household-level processing. While mechanized factory-based processing appears more economically efficient, poor road and telecommunications infrastructures mean that this type of industry is located outside the target districts in the better-equipped towns of Bilaspur and Raipur. Efforts have recently been made to introduce better-organized, semi-mechanized processing at the household and community levels; as yet, however, there is no conclusive evidence of the economic viability and long-term sustainability of such initiatives and their impact on the regional economy. Therefore, instead of multiplying pilot-scale efforts, donor attention could be better invested in an impartial study of the issue. The state monopoly of NTFP marketing should also be reconsidered and gradually phased out. (Source: Report of FAO consultant, Manjul Bajaj, September 1998.)

NTFP resources of Gujarat: salient features and rising concerns for their unsustainable extraction

Non-timber forest products constitute major forest outputs and can generate considerable income and employment for the rural poor. The NTFP economy of Gujarat confirms the interesting potential that NTFPs offer rural communities; they generate employment for local people in the order of 2.5 million person days per year and revenue of approximately US$1.4 million. Hence, NTFPs can serve a vital buffer role against conditions of absolute poverty in rural environments. Moreover, their capacity for income and employment generation could almost double if simple value-addition technologies are developed and adopted within the context of small-scale enterprises.

The role of the Gujarat State Forest Development Corporation (GSFDC), set up to deal exclusively with NTFP management and development, has been instrumental in promoting sustainable extraction and development of NTFPs and in helping to develop effective marketing and business strategies for them. As a consequence, the living standards of tribal people have increased; nevertheless, the eroding effects of inflation should not be underestimated.

However, progress in income and employment generation has to be weighed against the undesirable effects associated with unsustainable extraction of some NTFPs in the past, which has resulted in the economic extinction of major products such as Salai and Kadaya gum trees in northern Gujarat and Mahua trees in central Gujarat. There is now increasing concern in policy circles about dwindling resources and a recognition that a sustainable management framework is necessary for NTFPs in Gujarat. (Source: Personal contribution by D.D. Tewari and S. Tewari, Department of Economics, University of Natal, King George V Avenue, Durban 4004, South Africa; e-mail:

Non-timber forest products research

The Forestry Department at Aberdeen University in Scotland, in collaboration with the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, is carrying out research on the NTFPs of eastern India. This is being funded under the Forestry Research Programme of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID). The research focuses on the collection, consumption and marketing of non-wood products by tribal-dominated districts of eastern India. The research will identify from a user perspective the biological, economic, informational and politico-legal constraints on the production, collection and sale of various raw and processed non-wood products from the dry-deciduous forests of India. Identifying constraints on NTFP production, collection and trading will improve management practices and help formulate development strategies for improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent populations in eastern India. The livelihoods of women will be given special consideration. Collaborating in the research are Xavier Institute of Social Science, Ranchi, in cooperation with the State Forestry Departments of Bihar and Orissa.

The field sites are spread over four districts. Twenty-four rural communities are involved in a detailed household study on the consumption and production of marketed and non-marketed forest goods. Their economic importance will be traced from use at the household level up to national-level use. From a business point of view, the research will establish actual and potential returns to economic agents within selected NTFP production and marketing systems. The inventory will aid the development of a manual on NTFP management, designed for deciduous forests under local/joint forest management in eastern India. The manual will highlight sustainable management practices for improved community production and use of selected NTFPs. It will also highlight the potential for increased production of NTFPs in villages near to and distant from local urban centres as well as in managed and unmanaged forests and farm-forest lands. The manual will be produced in tandem with a simple financial appraisal model for key NTFPs.

The aim is also to collate existing official data and data from sample plots (within and outside the main research design) to estimate actual and potential yield figures and growth patterns for selected NTFPs under different forest regimes and management practices. Yield figures will also be correlated with available statistics on climatic conditions. The inventory, manual and model together will provide the strategic basis for commending adaptive changes in local NTFP management systems. New development strategies for the production and trading of NTFPs in eastern India will have a positive impact on the livelihoods of forest-dependent households, and particularly poorer households and women.

An understanding of the gaps in communication between stakeholders, primary collectors, NTFP entrepreneurs, government agencies and local traders can resolve various conflicting issues and the research findings are intended for dissemination among the interested groups at both the local and the state levels. Workshops and village discussions will be arranged for this purpose and also to improve the awareness of foresters, NGOs and villagers (especially village women) about the effects of extraction and overexploitation of NTFPs and provide alternative options for intervention by development organizations.

For more information, please contact
Dr Ajay Mahapatra, Jogendra Bhavan, Kafla,
Stony Road, Cuttack-2, Orissa, India.
Fax: (+91 674) 402449; or
Prof. Paul Mitchell, Forestry Department,
581 King Street, Aberdeen University,
Aberdeen AB24 5UA, UK.
Fax: (+44 1224) 272685;

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Role and potential of NWFPs in a logging concession in East Kalimantan

Recent research, funded by the German Overseas Cooperation Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and hosted by the Indonesian-German project, Promotion of Sustainable Forest Management in East Kalimantan, was directed towards analysing the socio-economic role and silvicultural management potential of NWFPs in natural timber production forest. The focus of the research was on old-growth forest plants and animals used by indigenous people living on the border of a logging concession in central East Kalimantan.

With the aid of interviews and observation, qualitative and quantitative data on the local role of NWFPs were collected. A sample plot inventory of NWFPs was also carried out in nearby natural old-growth forest in order to evaluate the abundance, site preferences and management potential of locally known and collected perennial forest plants. To evaluate changes in abundance of NWFPs in the presence of large-scale timber harvesting, primary forest was compared with logged-over forest.

Socio-economic research showed that large game is the only NWFP that contributes significantly to local income. Wild rattan is collected primarily for subsistence by upland rice farmers and forest workers, but is increasingly being replaced. Locally rare but valued rattan species are cultivated in small quantities near villages but harvested destructively in natural forest. Insignificant amounts of plants from old-growth forest are used to supplement nutrition and traditional healing.

Results from the sample plot inventory indicated that most single plant NWFP species should be considered rare. Roughly half of the NWFP species are negatively affected by logging; however, others seemed to have obtained better growing conditions through forest disturbance.

In conclusion, logging alone must not be generally considered a restriction to NWFP availability. The introduction of sustainable forest management for timber production can help provide NWFPs for subsistence use. The cultivation of NWFPs in agroforestry systems would offer a reasonable strategy for developing the marketing of these products. Major obstacles to stepping up NWFP cultivation in the research area include large-scale forest conversion near villages, the insecurity of land tenure and resource control, competition from improved cash crops, more profitable income options for NWFP collectors and cheap NWFP substitutes available to former user groups. (Source: ETFRN News, No. 23, March-May 1998.)

For more information, please contact
Ms Carol M. Grossmann, Chair of World Forestry,
University of Hamburg, Leuschnerstr. 91,
21031 Hamburg, Germany.
Fax: (+49 40) 72522665;

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Dipterocarpus alatus is indigenous to the mainland of Southeast Asia, where local people use its oleoresin for illumination and for waterproofing baskets and boats. Demand for oleoresin has grown owing to its use in modern applications such as paints, varnish and lacquer, and to the use of the essential oil as a fixative in perfumes. Its timber is also of economic importance.

A recent study reports on the tapping, marketing and economic significance of oleoresin in a Lao village, Ban Nathong. Annual production per tapped tree is between 22.5 and 31 litres, with the tappers receiving US$0.30 per litre. To many villagers, oleoresin represents their main source of cash income and demand may increase further as a result of recent approaches by agents. Interesting possibilities exist to enhance revenues for tappers by adding value at source, particularly by setting up village refinement processes for filtering and distilling the oleoresin, and through alternative marketing channels to ensure that the tapper receives a larger share of the profit from the resins. (Source: R. Ankarfjard and M. Kegl. Tapping oleoresin from Dipterocarpus alatus [Dipterocarpaceae] in a Lao village. Economic Botany, 52(1): 7-14, 1998.)

Non-Timber Forest Products Information Centre

The Non-Timber Forest Products Information Centre (NIC), which is funded by the Government of Austria and supported by CARE International, is a centre for the research and dissemination of information on NTFPs. The project works on a range of NTFP issues and is the focal point in the Lao People's Democratic Republic for NTFP-related activities. (Source: Asian-Pacific Community Forestry Newsletter, Vol. 11, No. 1, February 1998. Regional Community Forestry Training Centre [RECOTC].)

For more information, please contact
NIC, PO Box 6957, Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic.
Tel./fax: (+856 21) 415 774.
[See under International Action, FAO in the Field for more information on the Lao People's Democratic Republic.]

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Utilization of NTFPs in the rainforests of Madagascar

Madagascar is considered one of the most species-rich countries in the world and is included in the 12 megadiversity regions: Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru. Madagascar stands out for its unsurpassed rate of endemic plants and animal species.

However, plant and animal biodiversity is being threatened by shifting cultivation, timber production, overgrazing and charcoal production, among other activities. By 1985, 70 percent of Madagascar's natural forests had disappeared.

Using two regional case studies, a recent article explores whether NTFP utilization can help promote species conservation. In cooperation with Conservation International and the Water and Forest Department, fieldwork was carried out between October 1994 and May 1995 in an area on the fringe of Zahamena Nature Reserve, Madagascar's third largest natural reserve, covering 73 160 ha. NTFP use was studied in two village communities, Ambodivoahangy and Manakambahiny-Est, which were chosen for their very different ethnic composition (Betsimisaraka and Sihanaka), allowing documentation of the influence of the varying cultural and socio-economic framework on forest use.

Rice cultivation impacted forest use in the sense that large tracts of natural forest were cleared around Ambodivoahangy to provide nutrients for hill rice cultivation. In Manakambahiny-Est, however, the wet rice plots lie outside the forests, so there is no direct relationship between forest utilization and rice cultivation. Instead, the supply of drinking-water was considered to be the most important non-consumable forest service.

As in many other places, NTFPs are largely extracted for local consumption. The following NTFPs were identified as the most important: building poles and leaf material, fibres for tools and medicinal plants. Other products include edible plants, resins, fuelwood, lianas (for building), honey (as a sugar substitute), wild boar and shrimp. NTFPs are widely used in building, either as part of the load-bearing structure or as protective material for covering roofs, floors and walls. Although building materials are still the most important NTFP, there is a marked tendency to replace them with biological or synthetic substitutes.

The use of medicinal plants constitutes an important function of NTFPs. Local people use at least 41 different plants for their traditional medicine. However, use patterns differ. In Ambodivoahangy, the general population can use NTFPs for medicinal purposes; in Manakambahiny-Est, only traditional healers can use them, suggesting a greater Sihanaka reliance on specialists.

Fibres in both regions are derived from the bark of Dombeya spec. Bark materials are used in flooring, fastening supports and cargo, or as cords for tying up cattle. As fibre extraction is restricted to this one species, there has been selective overuse and even total depletion of exploitable stands in some forest areas.

Factors that determine why people use NTFPs include the prevailing socio-economic framework (customs, tradition, etc.), proximity to these resources, the supply capacity of NTFPs and possible replaceability by other biological and artificial materials and settlement patterns according to the time of year.

Both regions are engaged in some form of trade in NTFPs at the local and the international level. Regional and national markets are served by NTFPs from other regions with usually better infrastructure. Commercial activities are more intensive in Manakambahiny-Est but demand for NTFPs is greater owing to the distance of farming activities from the natural forest. Because of their shifting cultivation system, people in Ambodivoahangy can spend more time near or in the forest and collect whatever NTFPs they require.

Of particular interest for export markets is the bark material of Prunus africana. Phytosterols are extracted from the bark and serve as the active ingredient in drugs used for treating benign prostatic hyperblasia. The global trade volume is estimated at US$150 million per year. Quantities of this bark are collected in the Manakambahiny-Est region. While the exporter and the intermediaries enjoy most of the increase in value from the bark, the collection of bark still provides an important additional income source for the local people. Nevertheless, the survival of this species is threatened by needlessly destructive extraction techniques and overexploitation. Extraction needs to be oriented towards greater sustainable utilization of P. africana, exploring and researching the use of techniques such as bark stripping that do not kill the tree. Moreover, more information on the ecology of the tree (regeneration, distribution, etc.) is necessary.

The studies have shown that NTFPs make a considerable contribution to subsistence and income and hold good development potential for Madagascar. Current conditions are more conducive to environmentally acceptable utilization of NTFPs than to stemwood utilization. Damage to forests and habitats is rare with NTFP utilization. However, the overexploitation of P. africana and D. spec. represents a real danger and requires urgent measures. Improved extraction techniques and greater popular participation in the use and profit from NTFPs would be two ways of achieving sustainable and environmentally acceptable utilization. NTFPs can contribute to the sustainable development of rural regions near forests if there is prior analysis of the risks of and constraints to NTFP utilization. (Source: S. Walter. 1998. The utilization of non-timber forest products in the rainforests of Madagascar: a case study. Plant Research and Development, Vol. 47/48, p. 121-144. Institute for Scientific Cooperation, Tübingen, Germany.)

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R&D to strengthen a multiresource forest management approach

Opening the Fourth Conference on Forestry and Forest Products organized by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), the Minister of Primary Industries, Dato' Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik, said that the achievements of sustainable forestry require the transformation from a basically sustained yield timber production system to a multiresource forest management approach. The minister said that forest management would have to focus more on producing non-timber products, such as rattan, bamboo, palm, medicinal plants, resins and dyes. Other socially desirable benefits are water, recreation and ecotourism. According to the minister, the demand for NWFPs will increase significantly in the future.

In the case of rattan, only about 20 species are being utilized commercially out of the 106 species found in Malaysia. Besides existing in the natural environment, rattans have been planted in plantations within logged-over forest and under rubber trees. Some 11 500 ha of rattan (manau and sega species) have so far been established in peninsular Malaysia. Besides providing employment, the industry has also generated $M 91 million in export earnings.

FRIM is currently undertaking a joint project with the Federal Land Development Authority to plant bamboo extensively to provide raw material for high-value end products, such as bamboo parquet and floorboards.The potential for expanding the medicinal plant industry in Malaysia is enormous as the commercialization of traditional medicines globally is estimated to exceed US$200 billion annually. It is estimated that some 1 300 plant species and at least 100 fern species are known to have pharmaceutical properties. FRIM has set up a division of medicinal plants and is now working jointly with institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop drugs from local plants. An example is FRIM's research into the chemical and biological properties of the Malaysian Piper, a popular plant in traditional medicine. FRIM states that results so far have served to emphasize the importance of the genus Piper as a rich source of chemicals used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and/or flavour and fragrance industries. (Source: Malaysian Timber Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 10, October 1997.)

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Staff from the Australian Tree Seed Centre (ATSC) have studied leaf oils in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. Their work has led to successful pilot-scale production and marketing of an essential oil with medicinal properties.

ATSC has been collecting seeds in this area with the Papua New Guinea Forestry Authority since 1981. The activity area is remote and life for local villagers is harsh and based on a subsistence economy. Income generated from seed collecting has provided villagers with a limited but valuable income to meet school fees, medical requirements and basic food items. Several other income-generating schemes have been tested over the years, including rubber plantations, rice systems, piggeries and crocodile and deer farming. However, no scheme has yet proved to be sustainable.

Apart from seed collection, other activities have been carried out by the ATSC team. Study of essential leaf oils of the native melaleucas has been ongoing for some time. Local groups became interested in leaf oils work after seeing their relatives produce it commercially across the border in Irian Jaya. Thus the need for a project to start oil production became apparent.

With the support of an NGO, PNG Biological Foundation, ATSC engaged an expert to design and set up a demountable still at Bensbach in Western Province. The objective was to train the villagers in its operation and assess the feasibility of establishing a small local industry. The still was manufactured in Australia and installed in April 1996.

The still operated well and provides acineole-rich oil, called waria-waria, from Asteromyrtus symphyocarpa, a species that until recently was included as part of the genus Melaleuca and which is widespread in the region and coppices well after harvest. The oil has been readily accepted locally as an antiseptic and disinfectant and for the treatment of colds and coughs.

This pilot project has demonstrated that there is a potential for setting up an economically viable and sustainable community-based industry in this remote part of Papua New Guinea. Villagers have since approached ATSC for further help. However, expansion of the project will require considerable assistance from external agencies and a multidisciplinary approach to deal with all aspects of project operations. (Source: J. Doran and B. Gunn. Towards a village-based leaf oil industry in PNG. Australian Tree Resources News, No. 4, February 1998.)

For more information, please contact
CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products,
PO Box E4008, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia.
Fax: (+61 2) 6281 8266;

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In 1994, Paraguay's Law of Protected Areas (Ley de Areas Silvestres Protegidas, No. 352) called for the sustainable socio-economic development of buffer zones. Paraguay's National Parks and Wildlife Service (DPNVS) has been working towards this goal by assessing the potential of NWFPs for community development within buffer zones, with technical assistance from USAID's Global Environment Center. The methodology which has been used for these assessments included inventories, market studies and participatory rural appraisals, based on those described in the Field methods manual: diagnostic tools for supporting joint forest management systems, prepared for the Joint Forest Management Support Programme of India. The manual has been translated into Spanish and is being distributed by FAO's Forest Trees and People Programme.

The assessments are taken into account and included in the management plan of each protected area and its buffer zone. They begin with a general village meeting between DPNVS staff, including the local park rangers, and village members. Here, the development concerns of the villagers are discussed together with the types of NWFP utilized and the value attributed to them. Next, DPNVS staff visit individual households and inventory the types of NWFP cultivated and harvested and the land-use systems on which they are found. Parallel to the village visits, studies are performed in the local markets and those of larger cities to match the NWFPs that the villagers have with what is sold in the market. Once certain development opportunities are identified (for example, apiculture or agroforestry), there are further discussions with the villagers in order to finalize plans and ideas. Having decided on the activity, the type of technical assistance needed for implementation is sought and provided.

Although the obvious goal is to improve the well-being of local communities, an additional benefit is a closer relationship between the Park Service and local communities. The Park Service becomes a partner that is trying to improve the income-generating opportunities of local communities through technical assistance targeting specifically the needs of the community. Overall, this relationship also fosters a greater understanding of the value of protected areas and a willingness for its continued conservation. (Contributed by: Mary Melnyk, Natural Resources Adviser, USAID/Indonesia, Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan 3, Jakarta 10110, Indonesia;
fax: (+62 21) 380 6694; e-mail:

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Experimental tapping for resin was carried out on trees of the genus Canarium, which grows naturally in the Philippines. These trees are the main source of the resin known in the trade as Manila elemi. This product is utilized in the paint and varnish industries and is a major dollar earner for the Philippines. In 1993, it was reported that exports of Manila elemi to France, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United States amounted to US$686 000. Tapping of Canarium spp. provides a livelihood for people in the areas of the Philippines where the trees are common. Some farmers are part-time tappers, while others have become full-time tappers.

In 1968, a survey carried out by the Forest Products Research and Development Institute revealed that the death of Canarium trees in the tapping areas is generally caused by destructive traditional methods of tapping, i.e. excessively deep cutting and too-frequent rechipping.

The aims of the experimental study were to determine the influence on resin exudation of rainfall, length of tapping cut and sulphuric acid concentrations. The team tested four tapping lengths (10, 15, 25 and 35 cm) and four levels of aqueous sulphuric acid treatment (0, 15, 30 and 45 percent) to observe the effects on the resin yield of 32 trees. The influence of rainfall on resin yield was studied over a 12-month tapping period.

Resin yields differed among lengths of tapping in six different months, with the 15-cm length giving the highest monthly yield over the 12-month period. (The 15-cm length averaged 2.52 kg per tree and ranged as high as 3.8 kg, which was two- to fivefold greater than the 10-, 25- or 35-cm tapping lengths.) The four concentrations of sulphuric acid did not affect resin yield to any substantial degree and no statistically important interaction between acid concentration and tapping length was noted. Likewise, monthly rainfall patterns did not significantly impact resin yields of trees used in the experiments. A workable method of tapping Canarium was developed. (Source: A.B. Ella, A.L. Tongcan and E.C. Fernandez. Improvement in tapping of Philippine Canarium trees for Manila elemi. Naval Stores Review, September/October 1997.)

For more information, please contact
A.B. Ella and A.L. Tongcan,
Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI),
Department of Science and Technology (DOST),
College, Laguna, the Philippines; and
E.C. Fernandez, Associate Professor,
University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB),
College of Forestry (CF) and Program Leader,
R&D on Resins, College, Laguna, the Philippines.

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South Africa is now embarking on a new policy direction. Many important changes are on the agenda, including:

The officers responsible for this are, of course, very concerned. The woodlands are important for many reasons; however, translating these into something that makes sense in a report is not so straightforward. There are many different uses, from traditional medicine to privately run game reserves, where both goods and services are being traded.

The main problem is twofold: what to measure to indicate the importance of NWGS; and how to measure it or where to obtain the data. A related problem is how to format and publish these data. (Source: Travel report of Magnus Grylle, consultant, Forest Resources Development Service [FORM], Forestry Department, FAO.)

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Living fences around orchards in southern Viet Nam

In many parts of the world, people wish to protect their property in some way or another. From an ecological point of view, living fences are the soundest means of accomplishing this. During a survey on orchard management in the Mekong Delta, South Viet Nam, many different types of living fence were observed and their multiple functions recorded.

The non-woody species belonging to the Cactaceae family were Opuntia elatior Mill. and Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill., and to the Euphorbiaceae family, Euphorbia antiquorum L. Most of these species have a merely defensive function. A dense hedge of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. gives that function a more ornamental look. Of the woody species, five deserve further attention: Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn., Sesbania grandiflora (Pers.), Eucalyptus tereticornis, Annona glabra L. and Spondias dulcis Soland. ex Park.

Ceiba pentandra (Bombacaceae) is a classic multipurpose tree. If the trees are not lopped, kapok will be the main product harvested. The light, though strong, wood is used in the construction of bridges, which are numerous owing to the many small canals in the Mekong Delta. When used as a fence, however, the trees are lopped regularly. The leaves are sun-dried, ground in a small processing unit and subsequently mixed with some aromatic substances. This mixture is used directly for processing incense sticks which are burned during religious ceremonies.

Sesbania grandiflora (Leguminosae) occurs both as a fence and as a shade tree. The large white flowers form a delicious ingredient in the very popular local sour soup called canh chua. Once the tree has become too old, the stem is cut into pieces of about 1.2 m in which holes are bored and then inoculated with the fungus Auricularia sp. The mushrooms are harvested after approximately three weeks.

Eucalyptus tereticornis (Myrtaceae) serves more as a windbreak and an ornamental border than as a fence. It is often seen in the Mekong Delta, although still not widely used as a border plant for orchards. This introduced tree species is particularly resistant to the severe flooding and drought conditions that often prevail in the Mekong Delta and even thrives on acid sulphate soils. Its wood is used in the paper industry. An additional advantage of this species is the fact that it is a highly preferred host plant for the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina. In contrast to other regions of Asia, where weaver ants are only noted for controlling citrus pests (psyllids and stink bugs, etc.), citrus farmers in the Mekong Delta also appreciate the benefits of ant husbandry in terms of the improvement of fruit quality - a direct response to the fertilizer role of the excretions deposited by the weaver ants when they patrol the fruit.

The two most popular tree species with regard to weaver ant husbandry in citrus orchards are Annona glabra (Annonaceae) and Spondias dulcis (Anacardiaceae) where main nests of ant colonies are often located. As these trees grow much taller than the citrus trees, they are not affected by pesticide use and offer good refuge. Children in villages where balanced nutrition is often lacking eat the fruit of A. glabra. This tree is also resistant to flooding and drought conditions and thrives on acid sulphate soils, therefore the seedlings often serve as rootstock for the less tolerant soursop, A. muricata L. Trees of S. dulcis can be found as a border plant or intercropped with citrus. The fruit, called trai coc, is a local delicacy and is sold in markets.

Even within the context of integrated pest management (IPM), living fences have multiple functions. The advantage of trees used as windbreaks is that they prevent pesticides drifting from or to neighbouring fields. The density of leaf biomass is a very important characteristic that can be partly manipulated by humans, as in the case of Ceiba pentandra when the branches are being pruned.

By reducing wind speed, leaf injury from wind-blown sand and secondary infestation by pathogens can be reduced. In regions where canker caused by Xanthomonas campestris is a problem, reducing wind strength is very important. Wind-driven rain is the main dispersal agent, helping the bacterium to penetrate the stomal pores or wounds.

Finally, trees are an important refuge for birds and the arthropod natural enemies that prey on insect pests infesting orchards and the surrounding rice fields. Annona glabra and Spondias dulcis serve as a highly preferred host plant for the weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, which feeds on citrus stink bugs and psyllids. Moreover, banana plants in or around orchards of sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) are ideal nesting places for the black ant, Dolichoderus thoracicus. Farmers consider these ants to be highly beneficial since they effectively control the most serious pest, the sapodilla fruit borer, Alophia sp., thereby illustrating that increased biodiversity can improve pest management in orchards. (Contributed by: Mr Paul Van Mele, IPM in Tropical Fruit Production, College of Agriculture, Can Tho University, Can Tho, Viet Nam; fax: (+84 71) 830 814; e-mail:

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