Arriving at our ninth issue and looking back over a time span of nine years since the first issue of Non-Wood News in 1994 provides us with a unique opportunity to reflect on and take stock of the “lessons learned” in preparing this newsletter.

The purpose of Non-Wood News is still as valid now in 2002 as it was in 1994. Quoting the Editorial of the first issue: The purpose of Non-Wood News, as an information bulletin, is to provide readers with useful information and insight about the promise that the future holds in the field of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) and the issues to be addressed with regard to their sustainable development.

In view of the numerous contributions and feedback we receive from readers worldwide, we hope that we have indeed contributed to more information sharing on NWFPs among a wide range of people from different backgrounds and countries. With the increased accessibility to electronic communications, the NWFP-Digest-L was initiated in 2000 as a monthly e-mail information bulletin to strengthen and contribute further to easier information exchange among people interested in the development of NWFPs. In addition, Non-Wood News also became available online through our NWFP Web site, which contains all previous issues of both Non-Wood News and the NWFPDigest- L, in order to facilitate access to the wealth of information which has been accumulating over these nine years.

Regarding the second point of the purpose of the newsletter, i.e. "... about the promise that the future holds in the field of NWFPs ", there indeed we still need to work hard to make this "promise" a reality for the millions of households worldwide who depend heavily on NWFPs for their subsistence needs and income. In response to this challenge, FAO’s NWFP Programme, which in its early stages gave strong emphasis to activities on raising awareness of the role and contribution of NWFPs to rural development and poverty alleviation, is now giving greater importance to the activities which contribute directly to the development of the NWFP sector. Key actions include the elaboration of methodologies for assessing resources providing NWFPs, statistical data at the national level for the production and trade of NWFPs, or further clarification of the contribution of certification and benefitsharing arrangements to the sustainable management of NWFPs, as well as the promotion of selected NWFPs of key importance, such as rattan, edible forest plants or mushrooms, by identifying major constraints and actions and projects required for enhancing their sustainable and equitable development.

In the meantime, there have been some changes in the staffing of FAO's NWFP Programme. Ms Laura Russo has taken up new responsibilities within FAO and is now dealing with the assessment of the environmental impact of forest harvesting. Laura has been with the NWFP group, and particularly with Non-Wood News, almost since its conception. We want to thank her for her tremendous and much appreciated contribution and wish her every success in her new assignment. At the same time, we welcome Mr FranÁois Ndeckere-Ziangba who has joined us. FranÁois has considerable experience with a wide range of forestry issues and knowledge of NWFPs of Central Africa to share with us.

I would like to take this opportunity to give special thanks to the person who actually makes it all happen, Ms Tina Etherington. Without her dedication and many long hours of work in compiling Non-Wood News and the NWFP-Digest, we would not even be able to produce them.

And, last but not least, all of this would not have been possible if it were not for the many reactions and text contributions we receive from you, the readers. After all, Non-Wood News is made by its readers for its readers. Again our sincere thanks go to all of you.

Paul Vantomme


Non-wood forest products (NWFP) are goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests. Non-timber forest products (NTFP), another term frequently used to cover this vast array of animal and plant products, also includes small wood and fuelwood. However, these two terms are used synonymously throughout this bulletin. Other terms, such as "minor", "secondary" or "speciality" forest products, are sometimes used to keep original names and/or titles.