The Agroforestry Knowledge Toolkit for Windows (WinAKT) software provides the user with an environment in which to create knowledge bases about a user-selected topic by collating knowledge from a range of sources. It facilitates the synthesis of that knowledge and its valuation, and thereby facilitates its use in planning agroforestry research and extension, thus giving a powerful alternative to existing, less formal approaches to evaluating the current state of knowledge.

The knowledge-based systems approach has been successfully adopted in studies of diverse agroforestry systems in the United Republic of Tanzania, Kenya, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Currently, the approach is being used in a study of the smallholder jungle rubber system in Jambi province of Indonesia through collaboration with the ICRAF SE-Regional Programme and participatory maize-breeding in Nepal in collaboration with the Nepal Agriculture Research Council.

For more information, please contact: Mr Laxman Joshi, ICRAF-SE Asia Regional Programme, Situ Gedu, Sindang Barang, PO Box 161, Bogor 16001, Indonesia.
Fax: +62-251-625416
E-mail: or


The year 1999 marked the centenary of the synthesis of aspirin. The earliest known uses of the drug can be traced back to the Greek physician Hippocrates in the fifth century B.C. He used powder extracted from the bark of willows to treat pain and reduce fever.

Salicin, the parent of the salicylate drug family, was successfully isolated in 1829 from willow bark. Sodium salicylate, a predecessor to aspirin, was developed along with salicylic acid in 1875 as a pain reliever.

Sodium salicylate was not very popular since it had a habit of irritating the stomach. However, in 1897, a German chemist working for Bayer named Felix Hoffman changed the face of medicine forever. He had been using the common pain reliever of the time, sodium salicylate, to treat his father's arthritis.

The sodium salicylate caused his father the same stomach trouble as it had caused other people, so Hoffman decided to try and concoct a less acidic formula. His work led to the synthesization of acetylsalicylic acid, or ASA, which soon became the painkiller chosen by physicians around the globe. Nowadays, 100 billion tablets of aspirin are taken every day and the drug has new uses in heart and other conditions in thinning the blood.


Une étude européenne, démarrée il y a deux ans, a comme objectif d'explorer les possibilités d'utilisation dans le bâtiment des matières premières issues d'une agriculture de bambou naissante en Europe du sud (depuis 5 ans au Portugal, plus récemment dans les Landes). Les potentialités industrielles pour le bâtiment et l'agencement sont nombreuses.

Le bambou brut et des dérivés (lamellés, lattés) peuvent être travaillés comme du bois: les premiers tests de collage, dureté. vissage, finition ont donné des bons résultats. Le latté de bambou notamment s'avère être un matériau autosuffisant, comme le bois massif, mais beaucoup plus stable et avec des chants hautement décoratifs, même bruts d'usinage.

(Source: CTBA Info N 75.)

Pour plus de détails, veuillez contacter: François Plassat (CTBA)
Fax: +33-1-46-28-13-13



Forest products certification seeks to link trade in forest products, particularly international trade, to the sustainable management of forest resources by enabling producers and consumers to recognize products coming from sustainably managed forests. Attention so far has been mainly focused on timber and timber products, but this has recently expanded to include pulp and paper, with an emerging interest in the certification of NWFPs. Certifying the ecological, economic, and social aspects of NWFP management is complex and requires prudent application. The social issues surrounding access and utilization of NWFPs and the informal economic systems under which many of these goods are traded, may be poorly addressed by a market-based initiative such as certification.

Internationally, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has taken up the question of NWFP. Since its interim policy on NTFPs was put in place in April 1998, the FSC has provided guidance to groups who want to establish standards for NTFPs or to certify products.

The first case of a certified NTFP entering the market occurred with the recent launch of Jungle gum, which uses certified chicle (Manilkara zapota) from Mexico. In fact, the Noh Bec community (ejido), in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, is the first forestry operation to be certified for both timber and NWFP (chicle from Manilkara zapota). Noh Bec is certified by Smart Wood and its affiliate Consejo civil mexicano para la silvicultura sostenible, under FSC standards. Noh Bec was also evaluated by Fair Trade, e.V. and is now endorsed as a producer that meets the fair trade social and business practices criteria. Fair Trade, e. V. is also helping to introduce the certified latex into the European market in coordination with the manufacturer (Wild Things) and the Plan piloto chiclero, the producers' organization.

Within the FSC system, the leading initiative in NWFP certification, is the NTFP Marketing and Certification Project of the Rainforest Alliance. The project has developed NFTP certification guidelines. These incorporate all aspects of the FSC-approved Smart Wood Generic Guidelines for Assessing Forest Management so that, if applied, an FSC-approved Smart Wood certification of NWFPs can be given, as in the case of Chicle.

The Rainforest Alliance project has served as focal point for the assessment of the feasibility of NTFP certification. (To obtain a copy of the guidelines, please contact Trish Shanley, e-mail .) Examples of certification assessment include: Assessment of Açai palm (palm heart from Euterpe oleracea) in Brazil by the Institute of Forestry and Agricultural Management and Certification (IMAFLORA), Assessment of Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) by Consejo boliviano de certificacion forestal voluntaria (CFV) in Bolivia, and Assessment of chestnuts in Greece and of cork in Spain by the WWF Mediterranean Programme.

Some of the more widely applicable lessons learned from the certification assessment field trials are that: many of the constraints of NWFP certification are linked to the small scale of production of most NWFPs. In this regard, the constraint to certification for NWFP producers are similar to those faced by small timber producers. NWFP certification is useful in a limited number of cases, e.g. where there is an international market; in most other cases, local labels are satisfactory.

Some of the constraints or challenges to NWFP certification are: lack of ecological knowledge for many of the lesser known species (for some important species, such as palmito, chicle, rattan, Brazil nuts, information required is available); inaccessibility of certification for small producers (complexity of management plan, high fixed costs, land tenure not easily accessed); difficulties in implementing Chain of Custody (physical labelling and control of some products is difficult, contamination of certified products during processing). Obstacles to NWFP certification are also associated with market demands and with technical problems such as definitions (in-country definitions of NWFPs, or of indigenous people, for example, may not fit with FSC definitions).

(Sources: A. Pierce, The Challenges of Certifying Nontimber Forest Products. Journal of Forestry, 97(2):34-37. Summary Report of the NTFP Certification and Marketing Workshop 20-22 June 1999, Oaxaca, Mexico.

FSC NTFP Working Group- Final Report to the Board of Directors, draft Sept 1999.)

Is the consumer looking for certified forest products?

An extensive discussion is taking place in various fora on the need for the certification of forest products.

In order to help the various interested parties to have a good, solid basis for determining whether, to what extent, and under what conditions consumers would like to buy certified forest products, a review was carried out to identify and evaluate studies that have been prepared on the subject. The title of the document is A review of studies on consumer attitudes towards forest products marketed with environmental, social and/or sustainability attributes.

The review identifies nearly 200 references on this topic. They are classified into four categories based on their relevance: forest products marketing studies; studies of environmental or "green" issues; studies dealing with certification, sustainability and environmental issues in marketing; and studies that could not be reviewed but are still felt to be of relevance in assessing consumer attitudes. For each major study the applied study methods are analysed and the main findings highlighted. Some recommendations are also made for further research on consumer attitudes.

For more information and for copies of the review, please contact: Mr L. Lintu, Senior Forestry Officer, Forest Products Division, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 0100 Rome, Italy.

Fax +39-06-57055618
E-mail: .


Green marketing and fair trade
Green marketing is a niche in marketing (and NWFP marketing in particular) that has grown in recent years. The concern over forest resources and the notion that NWFP can be less harmful to the environment than timber have given unprecedented amounts of free publicity to nature-based products. Some commercial NWFP initiatives have been able to take advantage of this free image advertising. Much green marketing is based on linking the identification and promotion of new products with the market opportunities rising from consumer consciousness of environmental values. Green marketing emphasizes the ecological origin of the products, their sustainability (in terms of conservation and use of forest resources), and equity (involvement of local people and fair share of benefits) in its promotional campaigns. Closely linked to these concepts is the recent development of fair trade organizations for NWFP marketing all around the globe.

The main aim of these organizations is to improve access of NWFP producers to information on markets and prices, guidance on processing and increasing added value, and to create partnerships among producers (mainly in developing countries) and consumers.

The International Federation of Alternative Trade (IFAT) has adopted the following working definition of fair trade: «Fair Trade is an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It seeks to do this by providing better trading conditions, by awareness raising and by campaigning». (Source: )

UNCTAD launched the BIOTRADE Initiative at the COP3 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Buenos Aires, November 1996. The mission of the BIOTRADE Initiative is to stimulate investment and trade in biological resources as a means of furthering the three objectives of the CBD, i.e. to promote: (i) conservation of biodiversity; (ii) the sustainable use of its components; and (iii) a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resources. The Initiative's objectives will be pursued by enhancing the capability of developing countries for sustainable use of biodiversity to produce new value-added products and services for both international and domestic markets.

The Initiative concentrates on three areas: private sector, local and indigenous communities, and biodiversity conservation. In these areas it pursues:

Private sector:

- encouraging investment and trade in biological resource-based products and services;

- promoting biological resource industries;

- improving the functioning of markets for bioproducts and services; and

- enhancing the capability of developing countries to participate in these markets.

Local and indigenous communities:

- promoting an approach that focuses on both rights and benefits;

- encouraging value-added activities;

- ensuring that value-added activities contribute to social and economic development; and

- supporting fair and equitable sharing of benefits from biological resources.

Biodiversity conservation:

- conservation and sustainable use of biological resources; and

- generation of knowledge about incentives to conserve biodiversity.

To achieve the above goals, the BIOTRADE Initiative promotes active involvement of all stakeholders, including governments and international organizations. It therefore encourages the establishment of partnerships among the private sector, local and indigenous communities and developed and developing countries.

(For more information on BIOTRADE, see:
A list of Web sites on fair trade is available at:

More information on green marketing and fair trade can be found in Durbeck, K. 1999. Green trade organizations: striving for fair benefits from trade in NWFP. Unasylva, 198.



Since prehistoric times, the forest has provided people with a rich source of food and other basic needs. It not only provided a venue for hunting and food gathering, but also acted as a sanctuary. Today it serves the same purpose for the Filipino indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) as it did centuries ago, but to a lesser extent. Filipino forests have been greatly reduced over the past decades, which has adversely affected the supply of non-wood forest products.

Rattan and other NWFPs have been a part of the life and culture of the Alangan Mangyans of Mindoro Oriental, the Batak-Tagbanuas of Palawan and the Agta-Dumagats of Cagayan Valley for generations. Their traditional utilization of NWFPs continues and, despite modernization, many ICCs still cling to their old beliefs and practices, which are reflected in the use and manufacture of NWFPs into household wares and other indigenous articles.

The dwindling supply of rattan and other NWFPs in recent years has continuously stripped these tribes of potential sources of livelihood necessary to meet their basic needs. Thus, they are left with no other option but to practise proper forest utilization for sustainability of supply.

A case study has been prepared by Dr Aida Baja-Lapis of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau in the Philippines, which details such situations based on the actual experiences and conditions of these ICCs.

(Source: Extracted and edited from Dependence of selected indigenous people on non-wood forest products and their sustainable practices: a case study.)

For more information, please contact the author: Dr Aida Baja-Lapis, Supervising Science Research Specialist, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, College, Laguna, the Philippines.



Conservation International has prepared a directory of information resources for non-timber forest products (NTFPs). The purpose of this directory is twofold:

For more information, please contact: Conservation International, Conservation Enterprise Department, 2501 M Street, NW Suite 200, Washington, DC 20037, USA.
Fax: +1-202-331-9328



The first issue of Forest Harvest, the newsletter of the WWF MedPO NTFP network, was issued in February 1999. This newsletter not only brings news from the Mediterranean NTFP network but also from other related initiatives throughout the globe. Its aim is to bring the NTFP issue into the Mediterranean conservation spotlight. WWF considers that working with NTFPs is just a tool to preserve a rich natural and cultural heritage that is currently threatened by degradation from recent and uncontrolled changes, the results of which could be disastrous.

For more information, please contact: Mr Yorgos Moussouris, WWF MedPO NTFP Project Coordinator, PO Box 18003, GR 116 10, Athens, Greece.
Fax: +30-(0)1-7241806


(The WWF report
«Forest harvest: an overview of non-timber forest products in the Mediterranean Region» is available on FAO's NWFP home page:



The European Forest Institute has recently launched the EFISCEN European forest resource (EEFR) database, with detailed information of forest resources from 31 European countries. EFISCEN is a large-scale forest scenario model in use at EFI to produce projections of the European forest resources into the future under different scenarios. In the EEFR database the European forests are divided into 2 689 forest types, distinguished by country, region, owner, structure, site class and tree species. For each forest type, the area, mean volume and current increment by age class are used as input for the model. Such data could be obtained through cooperation with national forest inventory institutes.

The aim of the EEFR database is to make these data available to a wider user community. For most of the European countries, the data are freely accessible; for a small number of countries, access is restricted to EFI and its members. Together with the requested data, the user will receive contact information of the original data provider, links to the responsible national forest institutes' home pages, information on the source of the data and definitions used for the forest inventories.

The database can be found at; then follow the link to the EFISCEN European forest resource database.

(Source: NTFP-Biocultural-Digest, Vol. 4, No.1.)



Postponing action to solve global environmental problems is no longer an option according to a comprehensive United Nations assessment. The Global Environment Outlook 2000 ("GEO-2000") outlines progress in tackling existing problems and points to new dangers. "Despite successes on various fronts, time is running out fast," said Klaus Toepfer, the United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director. Two hundred scientists from 50 countries identified water shortage and global warming as the two most pressing problems for the new millennium. Deforestation at the national and regional levels was also a frequently cited concern. "GEO-2000" calls for environmental integration into other areas of life because surveys suggest that the "environment remains largely outside the mainstream of everyday human consciousness, and is still considered an add-on."

For more information, please visit:
(Source: Sustainability Review, Issue 2.)



During the 27th International Forestry Students Symposium several workshops were held on different themes, one of which was an NWFP-workshop. The participants from Algeria, Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland discussed the need to include NWFPs in higher education.

The opportunity to have many forestry students from different countries in one place led to the idea of preparing a questionnaire on this topic to be completed by all the participants. The results showed that NWFPs were regarded as an important (46 percent) or very important (27 percent) part of studies in forestry. Thirty two percent of the students found deficits in their curriculum regarding NWFPs, and 11 percent noticed extremely large deficits.

As to whether NWFPs should be included in forest education, only 32 percent were neutral; 69 percent agreed and 19 percent see an urgent need to increase the importance of NWFPs within their studies.

Game and hunting were the most cited examples of NWFPs that the students mentioned as being covered in their education. The group of bushfood, in general, was the strongest, followed by recreation and protection of nature. NWFPs for primary industry, such as cork from Quercus suber, essential oils and rubber took third place among the most mentioned examples of NWFPs, and mainly appear in subjects such as wildlife science/management, silviculture, forest products and economics. The students wished to have a better education in the following subjects and areas of research: wildlife management, ecological conservation, socio-economy, biodiversity and marketing.

The final conclusion was that forestry students in general see a need to enrich their education with the thematic field of NWFPs. Very often knowledge on this area of research is slight, whereas interest was very high.

NWFPs are regarded as a good opportunity to use forests, thus reducing the danger of destroying the forest ecosystem. A more profound education in NWFP management increases the job opportunities of forestry students - not just as timber managers but also as forest ecosystem managers. A chance to protect forest areas by utilization!

(Contributed by: Gunnar Josting, University of Freiburg, Germany.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Gunnar Josting, Koordinator, IFSS-Team Freiburg, Albert-Ludwigs - University Freiburg, Freiburg D-79106, Germany.



At its fifteenth Session in January 1999, the Committee on Agriculture recommended the development of organization-wide and coordinated cross-sectoral programmes in biotechnology, organic agriculture and urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA).

This endorsement requires that FAO, together with its partners:

(Source: FAO.)



The International Network on Ethnoforestry (INEF) now has 101 members from 40 countries. In order to share operational practices on ethnoforestry, INEF, the Indian Institute of Forest Management, and the Asia Forest Network, have planned to bring out a state-of-the-art book on ethnoforestry, which will cover the following:

For more information, please contact: Prof. Deep N. Pandey, Indian Institute of Forest Management, PO Box 357 Nehru Nagar, Bhopal, India-462 00.
E-mail: or



FAO is the lead agency for the International Year of Mountains, 2002 (IYM). The process was initiated in March 1999, when the Inter-Agency Network on Mountains met in Rome to begin planning for 2002.

FAO is currently developing a "concept paper" which will provide a framework for observance of the year and preparations leading to it. The document will serve to clarify the overall approach, strategy and substance of the programme for the IYM, and is also intended to strengthen fund raising efforts. At the same time a proposal is being prepared to establish a multilateral trust fund to serve a variety of needs, including: the establishment of an IYM Lead Agency Coordination Unit at FAO; the development of awareness raising packages and materials; the creation of a small fund (seed money) to initiate national level observance activities; carrying out studies and producing publications; supporting national mountain programme formulation; and funding key international events (technical meetings, regional workshops, an international conference, etc.).

For more information, please contact: Mr Doug McGuire, Senior Forestry Officer (Conservation), Forest Resources Division, FAO Forestry Department.



Inventory and monitoring of non-timber forest products in the United States

A chapter in the forthcoming Assessment of Non-Timber Forest Products in the United States of America covers inventory and monitoring. The Assessment is scheduled for release in May 2000 and is an outcome of activities by members of the non-wood subcommittee of the North American Forest Commission's forest products study (see Web site To complete this project, help is needed to collect information on research field designs that have been used to study and sample various non-timber forest products (also called special forest products), such as berries/nuts, mushrooms, edible plants, medicinal plants and others.

For more information, please contact: Mr Leon Liegel, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Fax: +1-541-758-7760



The biometrics of non-timber forest product resource assessment: a review of current methodology
This report was prepared by Dr Jenny Wong with Ms Nell Baker for the Forest Research Programme, funded by the Department for International Development, in May 1999.

The report is based on a review of studies that had assessed in situ NTFPs and were available in English literature. A review of the methods developed for assessing biodiversity and ethnobiology are described with regard to their applicability to NTFP resource assessment. Methods for assessing resources developed by the social sciences are also reviewed with regard to best practice. Quantitative methods for resource assessment are outlined for determining resource abundance, product yield and productivity. The uses of these data for determining sustainable harvesting levels and monitoring are reviewed. The special case of the use of indicators for monitoring compliance with certification standards is also considered.

The role of resource assessment in the development of sustainable NTFP management systems is described and a case presented that these should be biometrically adequate. The current methods used in NTFP assessments are evaluated against three biometric criteria: objectivity in plot allocation (randomness), replication of observations (number of plots) and independence of observations (plot configuration). For half of the 70 quantitative studies reviewed, the protocols were not reported in sufficient detail to permit biometric evaluation of the designs used. In those that could be evaluated, only a quarter of the quantitative studies were found to be biometrically rigorous.

Given the dearth of biometrically adequate methods, a system for assisting with the development of biometric designs for NTFP resource assessment has been developed. This is based on matching appropriate methods to characteristics of the resource populations. Thus optimal sampling designs are best informed by the resource distribution and abundance; optimal plot configurations by the size, life and growth-form of the resources; and enumeration techniques by the type of product being collected. The special requirements for monitoring and growth studies are also noted.

Based on the review, a number of priority issues and opportunities are raised and recommendations made for a programme of research to address them.

(Source: Extracted and edited from the Executive Summary - The biometrics of non-timber forest product resource assessment: a review of current methodology. May 1999.)

For more information, please contact: Dr Jenny Wong, Ynys Uchaf, Mynydd Llandegai, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 4BZ, UK.


New FAO inventory manual
The Forest Resources Division of FAO's Forestry Department is working on a new edition of the 1981 FAO Inventory Manual. The new edition will include a section on the inventory of NWFPs.

For more information, please contact: Mr Giovanni Preto, Senior Forestry Officer, Forest Resources Division, Forestry Department, FAO.




Mushroom harvesting has been a hot issue in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States for several years. What is less widely known is that more and more people are taking up a long-held tradition of harvesting non-timber forest products including edibles, floral greenery and medicinal plants. What NTFPs would people like to see more of? How can the abundance of the forest resources these harvests depend on, be increased? And how can communities and land managers work better together in harvesting these products?

A recently launched research project, "Involving Communities in Non-timber Forest Products Research" will try to answer these questions and more. The project is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Research Station, the USDA Forest Service and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. The purpose of this project is to help to understand the many values - from personal use to commercial - that forest-based community members place on non-timber resources, and how these values can be translated into the design and implementation of research projects. These projects in turn may ultimately help to increase the abundance of some non-timber products that can boost the economy of a community.

For more information, please contact: Mr Roger Fight, Research Team Leader, or Ms Sherri Richardson, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
E-mail: rfight/ or srichardson/



The Leuven Earth Observation Center was established at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, to develop new application technologies in the field of earth observation in response to the growing needs of industrial and governmental sectors. Its members are experts in the fields of sensor design, satellite steering, communications, terrestrial system modelling, signal and image processing, user interfaces and spatial data analysis. K. K.U.Leuven researchers already apply earth observation technology in the areas of, among others, land-use assessment and planning (including forest ecotourism), plant growth monitoring, coastal and river management, cartography, and erosion and pollution tracking. As new problems and/or applications emerge, a novel interdisciplinary strategy is used to address them and to transfer the resulting product and acquired expertise to the end-user community.

For more information, please contact: Mr Pol Coppin, Head, Department of Land Management, Faculty of Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Vital Decosterstraat 102, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Fax: +32-16-329760




Un manuel destiné à l'usage des vulgarisateurs dans les pays producteurs de gomme arabique est en cours de préparation . Le manuel, dont la publication est prévue avant la fin de l'an 2000, sera le résultat d'une collaboration entre la FAO et Aidgum, une ONG française.

Pour plus d'information, veuillez contacter : M. El Hadji Sène, Directeur de la Division des Ressources Forestières, Département des Forêts de la FAO.
Fax: +39-06-57055978




The Indian Agricultural Research Institute has been producing publications on medicinal plant research within a global prospective for over a decade. To date there are six publications in this series. The Institute is now organizing the publication of a five-volume book entitled Medicinal plants - achievements, status and future prospects. This comprehensive treatise on medicinal plants will act as a source for researchers on various aspects of plant drugs. The areas covered in the book include:



The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) offers post-graduate programmes in Environmental and Renewable Resources (Environmental Management, and Environmental Conservation and Restoration), Economic and Management Sciences, Food Quality Management, Horticultural Sciences and Technology, and Natural Products (Plant biotechnology and applications).

For more information, please contact: Mr Alkinoos Nicolaidis, Director, Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies, PO Box 85, GR-73 100, Chania, Crete, Greece.
Fax: +30-821-81154




A CIFOR-linked research project aimed at helping to preserve Africa's valuable miombo woodlands has begun issuing policy briefs to keep researchers, forest managers, government officials and policy-makers abreast of the findings.

«Management of Miombo Woodlands» is a new four-year collaborative initiative of CIFOR and the European Commission. Scientists from institutions in Malawi, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are participating in the research.

Nearly 40 million people draw on miombo woodlands for food, fuelwood and other daily needs. Research results will provide the kind of information needed to guide sustainable management of the woodlands, in line with goals such as improving productivity and enhancing the welfare of people who depend on them.

Three subprojects are under way: investigating institutional arrangements governing management of the woodlands; the impact of indirect factors, such as macro-economic policies; and environmentally sound harvesting techniques. These specific areas of focus were chosen in response to priorities identified in a forestry research master plan adopted for the Southern African Development Community.

For more information, or to receive research briefs, please contact: Dr Godwin Kowero, Senior Scientist and Coordinator, CIFOR Regional Office, c/o Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Zimbabwe, PO Box MP 167, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Fax: +263-4-334834

E-Mail: or



Although the economic importance of non-timber forest products in the Amazon is widely recognized, many initiatives to promote their trade have failed because of the weaknesses in addressing some specific market problems facing NTFPs.

The rigidity of the supply, the increasing prices and the low competitiveness of most NTFPs make economists consider NTFP extraction as a primitive economic activity that sooner or later will give way to domestication and the cultivation of similar products. Defenders of «extractive» populations also believe that the main problem for commercialization of NTFPs is their low competitiveness against substitutes.

However, the recognized role of NTFPs in poverty alleviation and forest protection has pushed the Brazilian Government to change the present unfavourable market signals of the non-timber economy. How? By subsidizing NTFP extraction and allowing NTFPs to compete with agricultural and synthesized products.

For many years, through its policy of substitution of imported products, Brazil assured markets for NTFPs by adopting trade barriers, such as import taxes, prices and supply control. Extractive NTFPs, such as rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), babassu nuts (Orbignya phalerata) and Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) were therefore protected from the competition of imported products, such as Asiatic rubber, oil palm and nuts, thus retarding their economic crisis.

Within the present national and international contexts, where Brazil defends the total liberalization of agriculture markets, new strategies have to be defined to promote the NTFPs of the Amazon. These strategies should be based on institutional, market, and technological mechanisms.

A new institutional framework would be entrusted with reducing the prejudice against the management of NTFPs and with changing the entrepreneurial culture, highlighting the economic, ecological and social importance of NTFPs for local development, as well as for the environmental protection of the Amazon.

Markets should be the main mechanism to direct policy and technology developments. A market strategy must explore the «green market» and the «organic market» niches. These are made up of those consumers with ecological and social consciousness, or by companies that use organic materials as inputs, who are willing to pay more for NTFPs managed on a sustainable basis.

In these niches, the capacity of a NTFP to add value is greater than that of a cultivated commodity imported from Asia at low cost (such as rubber and oil palm) and therefore NTFP are more competitive than cultivated or synthesised substitutes.

The new technologies have two major functions. First, in processing products designed to cater for specific demands in terms of quality. Second, in designing and processing products that have a higher added value, responding at the same time to the need for substitutability, supply elasticity, and income elasticity of demand.

An articulated effort as outlined above can rescue the NTFP economy of the Amazon from its lack of progress, contributing at the same time to the multiple use of the Amazon forest, sustainable rural development, and the well-being of the Amazon people.

(Contributed by: Vag-Lan Borges, Brazil.)

For more information, please contact: Vag-Lan Borges, SCLRN 714, Bl. G, Entrada 19, Apto. 301, 70.760-578 - Brasília - DF, Brazil.



A joint research effort of institutes from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, funded by the European Commission, initiated a project in 1997 with the aim of appraising the non-timber forest plant resource availability in Northwest Amazonia. Two different but interrelated approaches were used to study the relationships between potential supply and commercialization of non-timber forest plant products (NTFPPs) in Northwest Amazonia: the first approach, drawing on socio-economics and economic botany, included research on the commercial demand, trade patterns and market value of NTFPP; the second approach, focusing on ethno-botany and forest ecology, aims at improving the quantitative estimates of the potential supply of NTFPPs from pilot areas by applying complementary forest sampling procedures.

The field work has been carried out in three pilot areas in Northwest Amazonia: Yasuni National Park and Waorani Reserve in Ecuador, Ampiyacu River basin in Peru, and Caquetá River area in Colombia. The project is now in its analysis and reporting phase and the results will be used for local, regional or national development initiatives.

In this area, where there is a long tradition of commercial NTFPP extraction, sustainable natural forest use by NTFPP extraction is one of the most promising forest land- use options. The project aims to contribute to a better understanding of how local revenues from NTFPPs may increase and to study ways of measuring the high biodiversity levels of the Northwest Amazonian forest in view of production systems that are compatible with conservation objectives.

The project, which operates at various levels and may benefit different actors simultaneously, will lead to an increased consciousness of the importance of NTFPPs for local communities at the regional and national planning and decision-making level. It will stimulate regional and national planning and development institutions to consider extraction and use of NTFPPs as a viable alternative for Amazonian resources management and protection. It will also contribute to a strengthening of the research capacity of the countries involved.

At national level the project seeks compatibility and complementarity with existing territorial planning programmes of national and regional institutions. Furthermore, it aims to be consistent with the complex social and economic problems of Northwest Amazonia and with current strategies to resolve them.

At local community level, the project will have several benefits. It will produce estimates of the potential use value of forest types in the area as well as quantitative estimates of the abundance of selected useful species. Market surveys will enable this information to be put into a local and regional perspective for commercial extraction potentials. The aim is to present results that can be adopted and used by the communities in more detailed research in the field of sustainable NTFPP extraction and can therefore be seen as an important investment in the scientific communities of each developing country.

(Source: Joost F Duivenvoorden in ETFRN News 27/99.)



Potential benefits of NWFP to local communities
The relatively small areas of natural forests remaining in Tonga and Samoa highlight the need to look seriously at their impacts on the biodiversity and watershed functions. A current FAO project has been providing Tonga and the Cook Islands with technical support and some training/awareness seminars for the past few years.

An area of potential benefit to the local communities is in the possible commercialization of non-timber forest products. Kava (Piper methysticum), now a major export earner in Vanuatu and Fiji but with potential in Tonga and possibly Samoa, is now essentially considered under the agricultural sector. Noni (nonu or kura, Morinda citrifolia) has always been an important traditional medicine in many Pacific Island countries and is becoming an important cash income source for local communities in the Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji, with early signs of interest in Vanuatu and Samoa. The juice is the main product used, but the leaves are also being exported on a limited scale from Tonga. Planting of this species has started on a modest scale in Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu.

The cultivation of NTFPs would certainly be compatible with the agroforestry systems that have been in use in the countries for many years.

For more information, please contact: Mr Mathias Aru, Forest Resource Management Officer, Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific Islands (SAPA), Private Mail Bag, Apia, Samoa.
Fax: +685-22126

E-mail: or Mr Tang Hon Tat:


Nuts of Beach almond
Beach almond (Terminalia catappa) is widely distributed in coastal areas of the Indian Ocean, tropical Asia and the Pacific Ocean. On small islands of the South Pacific, T. catappa is mostly cultivated as part of multistorey tree crop systems. The oil-rich kernels make a tasty and nutritious food, while the outer flesh is widely consumed by children. The nuts may be consumed fresh after extraction from the shell or else preserved by smoking and consumed up to one year later.

The species plays a vital role in coastline stabilization, their well developed lateral root systems helping hold together fragile sandy soils.

The timber makes an excellent general purpose hardwood, and is well suited for furniture manufacture and building.

Research needs include an assessment of the productivity and marketing of cultivars with large nuts. In terms of processing, work is needed to determine a technique for defleshing fully mature fruits and better drying procedures.

(Source: SPRIG News, Pacific Islands Forests and Trees, June 1999.)



Restricted to the west part of the Mediterranean basin, cork oak (Quercus suber) is the only species capable of sustained and economical production of cork. While it is produced in a restricted geographical zone of the world, cork products, especially stoppers, have worldwide markets in industrialized countries.

In 1997 the FAO/Silva Mediterranea cork oak network launched the idea of a commercial imprint - a cork trademark - with the aim of promoting products made from cork. The short-term objectives of such an imprint would be: (a) to encourage consumers to prefer cork stoppers and other cork products to similar products made from substitute materials; and (b) to develop a common strategy among cork oak-growing countries and within the commercial cork sector.

Over a longer time frame, the idea is to achieve certification of all cork products, and rigorous quality standards for various cork products, particularly for wine stoppers.

Cork has a number of intrinsic qualities that give it potential advantages in a promotional campaign of this nature: first and foremost, it is a natural product made from renewable resources following an environmentally friendly process that does not even require harvesting of the trees; the clear, demonstrated importance of the cork industry in maintaining the ecological stability of the fragile and threatened Mediterranean ecosystem; and thirdly the importance of the cork industry in terms of providing employment and income - in Portugal, for example, cork is the country's primary export product and probably the leading source of employment.

The decision on the actual design of the cork trademark is now being taken by an international committee

(Extracted and edited from: Varela, M.C. 1999 Cork and the cork oak system.

Unasylva, 50(197): 42-44.)

For more information, please contact: Ms Maria Cristina Varela, National Forest Research Station, Oeiras, Portugal.
Fax: +35-11-441 56 60




Un numéro spécial de APFT-News, le bulletin de l'APFT (Avenir des Peuples des Forêts Tropicales), a été consacré aux aspects des espaces urbains en Afrique et leur impacts sur les forêts. L'importance de ce sujet avait été souligné lors de deux ateliers organisés par l'APFT avec le soutien du Programme L'Homme et la Biosphère de l'UNESCO. Ce n'est pas seulement le besoin vital des populations urbaines (pour des produits tels que le gibier, le bois, d'autres PFNL) mais aussi leur profond attachement culturel qui les poussent à exercer une pression directe sur les ressources naturelles. Cette pression s'intensifie au rythme de l'extension des espaces urbains. Dans ce numéro spécial du bulletin, des sujets très fort liés à l'utilisation durable des PFNL sont traités, par exemple: l'exploitation des rotangs dans la régions de Yaoundé, la filière viande de brousse à Libreville et les menaces sur les forêts sacrées autour de Kinshasa.

(Source: APFT News -- Avril 1999.)

Pour plus d'information sur le volet Ville-Forêt du projet APFT, contacter: M. Théodore Trefon, APFT, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 44 Av. Jeanne - CP 124, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgique.
Fax: +32-2-650 37 98




The Shea Project is an integrated rural-based project that engenders conservation of indigenous woodland through access to improved shea processing technologies, small-scale credit, and the development of new, high-value markets for Ugandan shea butter. The Shea Project works primarily with women's farming groups across northern Uganda and in partnership with development organizations in southern Sudan. The Shea Project is implemented by COVOL Uganda, a US- and Uganda-based non-government organization.

From 26-30 June 2000, COVOL will host a regional conference on the nilotic shea butter tree (Vitellaria paradoxa spp. nilotica) as a resource for environmental conservation through rural-based economic development.

For more information, please contact: Mr Eliot Masters, Coordinator, The Shea Project COVOL Uganda, P.O. Box 833, Lira, Uganda.

(Please see under Forthcoming Events for more information on this regional conference.)



Commercial, industrial-scale timber exploitation represents the bulk of logging volume in Central Africa. NWFPs, on the other hand, with the exception of a dozen or so medicinal species (such as Pausinystalia johimbe and Prunus africana) harvested for phytomedical or pharmaceutical export markets, tend to be harvested for smallholder subsistence consumption or for sale in local markets. Well-established regional markets for forest spices, medicine, chewsticks, kola nuts and forest foods are also significant and form an intermediate band of resource exploitation.

The most direct connection between timber and NWFPs is when a single species has both timber and non-timber value. For example, Aucoumea klaineana (okoumé), the primary timber species exported from Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, yields a resin which is tapped prior to felling for timber and collected to make torches (which are then wrapped in the bark of Xylopia aethiopica, an NWFP with a range of uses).

Of the top 25 timber species exported from Cameroon in 1997, most have non-wood values. However, for each species the relationship between timber and NWFP values varies according to factors such as variations in species density and distribution, timber value and the level of local demand for NWFPs. For example, species such as Baillonella toxisperma (moabi), Pterocarpus soyauxii (padouk), and Milicia excelsa (iroko), which have high timber values and are found unevenly distributed in low densities, are usually heavily depleted in areas where logging takes place. Meanwhile, their local NWFP values are high, and there are no ready substitutes for some of the more valuable products they yield. As a result, there is a significant conflict between NWFPs and timber values.

Baillonella toxisperma is one of the more valuable timber species in the region, used in furniture and cabinet-making, flooring and for veneer. In 1997, it was the tenth most important commercial timber species exported from Cameroon by volume. This, despite being found in notoriously low densities of less than one tree/hectare. The seed of B. toxisperma also produces a cooking oil so prized, and today so scarce, that it is rarely sold in markets since local communities prefer to keep what they can collect for their own use. The seed oil is also used medicinally, including for skin problems and rheumatism.

Pterocarpus soyauxii (padouk, or camwood) is used to make furniture and in cabinet-making. Locally, it is a preferred wood in some areas for carving canoes, stools, musical instruments and agricultural implements, and the ground stem is also an important cultural and medicinal species. Because of selective logging pressures, it has become scarce in many forest areas. Milicia excelsa is one of the most sacred tree species in Central and West Africa, and is used medicinally. It is heavily depleted because of selective logging pressures, and in some countries, such as the Congo, is endangered.

Other valuable timber species with important non-timber uses include: Nauclea diderrichii (bilinga), a very strong timber, resistant to borers and used for harbour work, mortars and general construction. The bark, root, and wood are all used to make a yellow dye and the bark is also used to treat fevers and stomach problems. Canarium schweinfurthii (aiele) has a range of uses as timber, and also yields popular fruits sold in local markets and a resin which is burned as incense and to start fires (thus the name «bush candle»). Lophira alata (azobé or ironwood) was the sixth most important timber species by volume exported from Cameroon in 1997, and is also used locally as a medicine for back and toothache.

Most of the widely marketed NWFPs in Central Africa, however, including Irvingia gabonensis, Afrostyrax spp., Tetrapleura tetraptera, Ricinodendron heudelottii, Garcinia kola, Gnetum africanum and Monodora myristica are not important timber species.

NWFPs are sourced from a range of habitat types and traditional systems of management for forest resources and make a use of a continuum of vegetation types, including recently cleared lands, farm fallows, secondary forests and forests that have not been cleared for hundreds of years. Timber harvesting operations therefore directly affect only a portion of NWFP species used by local communities. Negative effects are related to damage to the soil surface, including the removal of topsoil, disturbance and soil compaction, direct damage to species in residual stands and to those that make up the understorey and ground cover of forests (many of which are important NWFPs). Silvicultural treatments can reduce species diversity by promoting an increased proportion of commercial species, and removing competing «undesirables», many of which might be NWFPs. Rare and specialized species will generally suffer most from the random damage of logging operations and the shift in species composition to generalists that often follows immediately upon logging.

Logging roads provide access to once inaccessible populations of wildlife and other NWFPs, as well as to markets. This helps people to capitalize on the market potential for previously inaccessible NWFPs, but can lead to overexploitation of species.

Logging can positively affect NWFP species that prefer disturbed forest areas and roadsides. In Central Africa, these include rattan species, as well as many condiment and medicinal species such as Aframomum spp., Piper guineensis and Piper umbellatum. In southern Cameroon, logging appeared to cause abundant regeneration of the condiment species Ricinodendron heudelotti, and to have limited impact on the size class distribution of Irvingia gabonensis.

The vast majority of timber production in tropical countries comes from unmanaged forests that are usually harvested in excess of the allowable cut, and logging damage can be severe. However, in managed forest areas timber and NWFPs can be harvested in a complementary manner. Timber harvest can be planned in a way that minimizes damage to residual stands and the total area disturbed by roads, landings and skid trails. Timing of logging operations can take into consideration rainy seasons, seedfalls and the reproductive cycles of animals and species of non-wood value. Complementary harvests of NWFPs before and after logging can be planned, including the harvest of rattans, collection of oil-producing seeds and medicinal barks, and tapping essential oils and resins from valuable timber species. The harvesting of NWFPs in conjunction with logging operations is often carried out now on an ad hoc basis, but these activities could be built into management plans, such as those called for in Cameroon as part of Community Forests, an innovation of the January 1994 Law No. 94/01 concerning Forests, Wildlife and Fisheries.

Unfortunately, quantitative data on the relationship between timber and non-timber uses and management are difficult to obtain, although some studies do exist.

(Extracted and edited from Laird S.A. 1999. The management of forests for timber and non-wood forest products in Central Africa. In T. Sunderland, L. Clark. & P. Vantomme. 1999. Non-Wood Forest Products: Current research issues and prospects for conservation and development. FAO, Rome.)

FAO, jointly with ECE and ILO, is organizing an international seminar on harvesting of NWFPs in Turkey in October 2000 (please see under Events).



A study conducted by the Sokoine University of Agriculture in the United Republic of Tanzania aimed at finding out the contribution of forest products to farmers' cash incomes. The results of the study are published in the paper Household livelihood strategies in the Miombo woodlands, emerging trends by G.C. Monela, G.C. Kajembe, A.R.S. Kaoneka and G. Kowero.

The survey included two villages each from the remote Dodoma region, the peri-urban area near Morogoro and the Kilosa District.

Honey, charcoal, fuelwood, and wild fruits contribute an astonishing 58 percent of farmers' cash incomes. Honey alone accounted for one-third of all cash income in these villages. Traditionally, Tanzania's beekeepers make their bee hives from tree bark. Farmers in the peri-urban area, who had greater access to markets, produced more charcoal. On average, charcoal production provided US$445 in cash to each family in that area, which was 38 percent of their total cash income. Women have become more involved in many of these activities, particularly, in the peri-urban area, where two-fifths of the women interviewed participated in commercial forest product extraction.

One reason farmers have taken up selling forest products is that agriculture has become less profitable. At the same time, improvements in the transportation infrastructure have made it easier for them to bring their forest products to the towns.

The results of this study confirm the findings of a previous survey of seven administrative regions that found that two-thirds of all Tanzanian households obtained at least 15 percent of their incomes from forest products. Both studies also show, however, that how important products are to villagers varies a great deal between households and from one region to the next.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the paper, please contact: Faculty of Forestry, Sokoine University of Agriculture, PO Box 3009 Chuo Kikuu, Morogoro, Tanzania.
Fax: +255-56-4648

Mr Godwin Kowero, Senior Scientist and Coordinator, CIFOR Regional Office, c/o Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Zimbabwe, PO Box MP 167, Harare, Zimbabwe



The Wageningen Agriculture University and FAO have started a project on «Education for Decision-making in the Global-local World of Agriculture». This project aims to examine the teaching-case method as a potential tool for improving the quality of teaching and learning within the context of strategic and tactical decision-making training.

A teaching case is a written document, describing a real-life situation. It contains all the necessary information, such as tables, charts, figures, etc. to understand fully a given situation. This information will be discussed in the way of tactical decision-making simulation, in which the focus is on an evolving problem that depends on data interpretation and management for a solution. The primary intent is to develop participants' cognitive strategies, decision-making skills and their capacities for data selection, organization, interpretation and management.

The FAO NWFP Programme supports this project through the compilation of a teaching case on the exploitation of medicinal plants in Madagascar. This teaching case will deal with the existing potentials and risks related to the utilization of NWFP - in this case medicinal plants _ that are commercialized on a global level. Within the framework of this case, students will be confronted with complex and complicated issues, such as property rights, conflict management between different groups of interests (local communities, industry, politicians, NGOs), marketing problems, conflicts between conservation and utilization, and the impact of exploiting wild species in comparison with cultivated species. By using a concrete but typical example (case), students will gain new impressions regarding the complexity related to the utilization of NWFPs.

Other teaching cases that will be elaborated within this project cover topics such as cash crops - local nutrition at risk?, household food security: the case of northern Zambia, or the implementation strategy of conservation tillage for sustainable agriculture.

For more information, please contact: Mr. Jacques Jallade, SDRE, Sustainable Development Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
Fax: +39-0657055731



Dr Robert van Haarlem, Wageningen Agriculture University, Central Office for Education and Research, P.O. Box 9101, 6700 HB Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Fax +31 317485123

E-mail: Rob.vanHaarlem@Alg.OOB.WAU.NL



The Raintree companies advocate the preservation of rainforests by promoting the use of, and creating consumer markets for, rainforest products with special emphasis on important medicinal plants. Documentation and information on rainforest medicinal plants can be found on their Web site in an effort to help educate people about these important plants. By creating a market demand and income from sustainably harvested rainforest products, the Raintree companies hope to provide a morally and ecologically balanced relationship that is not only supportive of the rainforest and monetary needs of the indigenous peoples of the rainforest, but can compete financially with other uses of forest resources. Raintree's focus, since its inception, has been on the Amazon rainforest.

For more information, please contact: Raintree Nutrition, Inc., 10609 Metric Blvd, Suite 101, Austin, Texas 78758, USA.
Fax: +1-512-833-5414




Although there are many definitions, forestry extension may be defined as a systematic process of exchange of ideas, knowledge, techniques and information leading to mutual changes in attitudes, knowledge, values and practices aimed at improved forest and tree management and rural development. In organizational and operational terms, many extension systems, public and private, are based on some degree of standardization, uniformity and economies of scale. Traditionally extension has often aimed at maximizing or optimizing the production of a single product or limited array of products and services. For example, because of strong demand, large areas may be managed for fuelwood production under certain standardized techniques and practices. Non-wood forest products, on the other hand, are often low value, multiple and diverse, change greatly in time and space, and can fluctuate strongly in response to markets. Certain medicinals may come into a period of strong demand only to be replaced by alternatives within a relatively short time. NWFPs can occupy overlapping and competing niches. Fruits, bark and leaves of the same species may provide different products and have different uses and only be economical when taken in combination. Optimizing the sustainable production of an array of products may be necessary and greatly complicate extension approaches. Often little formal research has been carried out on NWFPs and they are best known by local people - necessitating the integration of local knowledge. The harvesting of one product, such as bark, may preclude the use of other products. Extension for NWFPs therefore can be seen as something of a paradox - systematic and standardized approaches to products and services characterized by their diversity and multiplicity.

The FAO Forestry Department is interested in exploring this topic in greater depth. We would like to gather documented experiences on successful and not so successful extension for NWFPs, including case studies, analytical and conceptual studies (including lessons learned) as well as reviews, bibliographies and other resources.

For more information, please contact: Forest Extension Officer, Forest Resources Division, FAO Forestry Department, or the NWFP Programme at the address on the first page.



The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is carrying out a project on "Women and Non Timber Forest products", within which regional workshops are being held.

The workshops will bring together local researchers, representatives of women workers and entrepreneurs involved in these subsectors, and NGOs who work with them. The objective is to identify the most important products in terms of employment/income for women and to explore where the major constraints and lost opportunities for economic advancement occur. These workshops will be followed by a series of in-depth research studies to go more deeply into selected production/consumption chains related to specific products.

IDRC is looking for names of local researchers and NGOs who work with women's rural groups (Africa, Latin America and South Asia) on any NTFP and agroprocessing.

For more information, please contact: Ms Amira Baabaa, International Development Research Centre, 250 Albert St, Ottawa, ONK1P 6M1, Canada.