Rare and endangered economic plants of Bangladesh
Plants of economic and medicinal value were once abundant in the forests of Bangladesh. But, unfortunately, these important resources are getting rarer day by day. Unless immediate attention is given, the country may lose these important and useful resources forever.
Forest land is decreasing at an alarming rate and in that context the Forest Department of Bangladesh cannot provide land for any plants except for commercially important timber-yielding species in normal plantation programmes. As a result, other economic plants are becoming rarer in the forest area.
Herbal medicines are still a most popular and accepted way of treatment for the vast majority of people (tribal) in rural and hilly areas across the country. It is part of their belief and cultural heritage. Therefore, to meet the needs of these people in remote areas where herbal medicines are their only form of remedy, we cannot but emphasize conservation and extension of cultivation of economic plants of medicinal and other values. In that context, the question is how can the problem be met, as these are not priority species in the normal plantation programme of the Forest Department? The only way is community-based forestry programmes where these important economic plants can easily be included. If this is done, it will not only serve the people but will also save these important resources from extinction.
To achieve this, some important and widely used economic plants should be included in community-oriented forestry programmes. A short list of threatened multipurpose economic plants of socio-economic importance is given in the table below.
Plants with economic value
It is high time that initiatives were taken to protect our valuable economic plants from extinction in order to serve the ailments of the rural poor of Bangladesh. (Contributed by: A.Z.M. Manzoor Rashid, Lecturer, Department of Forestry, Shahjalal Science & Technology University, Sylhet-3114, Bangladesh; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com )
Preliminary study into NTFPs at a new ecological reserve in southeastern Brazil
The Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) is located in the Serra do Mar mountain range, approximately two hours northeast of Rio de Janeiro by car. Encompassing 7 385 ha and an altitudinal range of 35 to 2 100 m, this Atlantic rain forest reserve was created to preserve permanently one of the biologically richest and most important examples of this extraordinary forest type remaining.
A preliminary study was conducted from September 2000 to March 2001 to assess the potential for REGUA to provide local employment through the development of selected non-timber forest products (NTFP). As part of this study into potential NTFPs, local interviews were conducted with community elders during the second half of 2000 to ascertain the level of knowledge regarding traditional plant use and to identify species worthy of further study. Sadly, little ethnobotanical knowledge exists to date. Although NTFP studies have been conducted on the Atlantic rain forest, they are few and, given the wide intersite variation in flora due to differences in aspect, altitude and microclimate, of little use until an inventory of the reserve's flora has been conducted. It is hoped that the research team from the Jardim Botânico in Rio de Janeiro will undertake such an inventory in the near future.
Identification of potential NTFPs, therefore, is difficult at present, although exploration of the reserve has suggested several possible avenues of investigation. The forest contains a rich diversity of begonias, ferns and heliconias, all with a potential market as ornamental or houseplants. Owing to their ease of cultivation, begonias would seem to offer the most promise. Given the reserve's proximity to a major urban market (Rio de Janeiro), the sale of ornamental and houseplants cultivated from forest species may prove to be a valuable source of income for the reserve and the local population.
REGUA was established under Brazilian legislation in 1998 and is managed in association with the local communities centred around the village of Guapiaçu. The reserve is supported by and is a project of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest Trust, a United Kingdom-registered charity committed to the preservation of this unique and highly threatened environment. REGUA publishes a quarterly newsletter which includes regular articles about the reserve's conservation, research, environmental education and community outreach programmes. (Contributed by: Simon Comerford, Temporary Site Manager, June 2000-March 2001.)
For further information about REGUA, or to subscribe to the newsletter, please contact:
Stephen Knapp, Project Director,
REGUA Administrative Office,
1 Compton Cottages,
West Sussex PO20 9DZ, UK.
Tel./fax: +44 (0)1243 601029;
Ashaninka Indians will manage ecological hotel in Acre
The Ashaninka Indians will be the first indigenous community in Brazil to run a small ecological hotel. The hotel, which will be located in the Marechal Thaumaturgo region in the extreme west of Acre, close to the border with Peru, will begin to be constructed in the next few days on the banks of the Amonia river.
In Pará, in the Altamira region, Tataquara Hotel is already in operation. It is administered by the cooperative Amazoncoop, which involves the participation of the Arawete Indians. The cooperative was created four years ago to help develop economic activities which would guarantee the Indians' survival. The cooperative also manufactures copaiba oil, which it exports to the United Kingdom-based Body Shop chain.
The Ashaninka hotel is being financed by the state government of Acre with resources from the National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES). It will accommodate up to 40 people in eight chalets. The head of the Brazilian Indian Foundation (FUNAI) in the state said that the proposal is to create a centre for the study of traditional knowledge.
A further two hotels are planned in Acre.
BNDES is investing a total of $R 1.1 million in the project. (Source: Amazon News, 7 February 2002 [firstname.lastname@example.org].)
Community leaders' forum Is playing leading conservation role
Nyasoso-Cameroon-Mount Kupe, in southwestern Cameroon, is one of the last remaining areas of montane forest in Cameroon. Extending over an area of about 30 km2, and rising to an altitude of 2 050 m, the mountain is covered in pristine forest. It is home to many rare and unique species. It is also a place of great importance to the Bakossi people, for whom it provides food, water, medicine and building materials - as well as being the sacred home of their ancestors.
However the proximity of the mountain to a major highway has encouraged an ongoing influx of non-native people from other parts of the country into the area. The population around the Mount Kupe conservation site is now estimated at 140 000, spread over an area of 350 km2. Subsistence farming is quite intensive in the forests along the mountain slopes, with some farms being found at an altitude of 1 000 m.
The use of the forest by this increasing population together with attempts to derive subsistence from the natural resource base of the area constitute important threats to the conservation of wildlife and plants in the forest and the mountain.
To address some of the issues facing the mountain and the people who live around it, the Kupe All Chiefs Meeting, representing 19 village communities from the area, meets regularly to discuss problems facing the natural environment and to mobilize the local people to seek solutions to them.
The WWF Coastal Forest Programme has been working with the local people to demarcate a farm/forest boundary around the mountain and ensure that farms do not take over the entire mountain. By this demarcation, no farms can cultivate above 1 000 m on the mountain slopes. The farm/forest boundary is 4 m wide and a total of 40 km have so far been demarcated. Traditional boundary markers (dracaena) have already been planted on 30 km of the demarcated boundary. Patrol teams are being set up in areas where demarcation has been accomplished to make sure people do not encroach on the conserved areas within the boundary. Here again, the chiefs will be on the frontline, moving around their villages, sensitizing their people. Each chief leads his village demarcation team and is there to resolve any conflicts that arise.
When demarcation is completed, the conserved forest will be gazetted, maps will be produced and community management plans drawn up. However, WWF's funding for the Mount Kupe Forest Project has now run out, and more funds are being sought to help the chiefs ensure the ongoing protection of this important area. (Source: www.panda.org/news/features/story.cfm?id=2681 , in RECOFTC e-letter 2002.3.)
Quelques plantes à fruits comestibles de la Réserve Forestière des Monts Rumpi (RFMR) sud-ouest du Cameroun
Une étude des plantes à fruits comestibles a été menée entre juin et septembre 1997 dans la Réserve forestière des Monts Rumpi (RFMR) située dans le sud-ouest du Cameroun qui regorge d'une grande variété de ressources naturelles et plus particulièrement d'espèces animales et végétales. Dans sept villages (Meta, Iyombo, Madie, Dikome-Balue, Kita, Monsongisele Ngolo et Meka), 10 à 20 pour cent des ménages ont été interrogés et un total de neuf plantes à fruits comestibles ont été identifiées. L'enquête a révélé la présence de plusieurs taxons à fruits comestibles dans ce site (plus de 1 000 espèces). Cependant, l'identification précise et la promotion de ces plantes à fruits comestibles, qui constituent pour les villages proches de la réserve la troisième source de revenu après l'agriculture et la chasse, posent encore quelques problèmes. Il s'agit notamment de la crise économique que traverse le Cameroun, de manque de route pour l'écoulement des produits vivriers et de l'interdiction de chasse dans les aires protégées.
Les espèces suivantes ont été retenues sur plus de 20 fruits qui sont récoltés et consommés par les habitants de la périphérie de la RFMR:
• Irvingia gabonensis (mangue sauvage). Il existe deux variétés de cette espèce; I. gabonensis var. gabonensis et I. gabonensis var. excelsa. La poudre des cotylédons de ces deux variétés est utilisée dans la préparation d'une soupe gluante très appréciée dans la plupart des régions d'Afrique. Ces graines rentrent aussi dans la fabrication de divers produits tels que les savons et les produits cosmétiques et pharmaceutiques.
• Cola lepidota (cola du singe). Son péricarpe blanc mou et sucré est très consommé dans la région. L'huile extraite des fruits secs est utilisée dans la cuisson des aliments, dans le traitement des plaies, des brûlures, des douleurs rhumatismales et des vers ronds. Elle est aussi utilisée comme vermifuge.
• Tetracarpidium conophorum (acajou). L'endosperme est huileux et est communément bouilli et consommé. L'huile extraite des graines est aussi utilisée dans la cuisson des aliments.
• Garcinia kola (cola amer). Les graines sont mâchées en dépit de leur goût très amer. Elles sont utilisées en médecine traditionnelle dans le traitement de plusieurs maladies (l'écorce de la tige est utilisée comme purgatif et dans le traitement des tumeurs) et sont aussi utilisées pour soigner le rhum de cerveau ou de poitrine et la toux. Elles sont aussi mâchées comme aphrodisiaque.
• Ricinodendron heudelotii (njangsa). Les fruits écrasés sont utilisés comme épice pour assaisonner les soupes. Le latex et les feuilles sont localement utilisés comme purgatif.
• Piper guineense (piment sauvage). Les fruits et les feuilles secs sont utilisés comme épices pour assaisonner les soupes. En médecine traditionnelle, les feuilles et les fruits sont utilisés dans le traitement de la toux, les graines sont utilisées dans le traitement des douleurs d'estomac et comme antibactérien. Les feuilles, les racines et les graines sont incorporées dans les préparations pour le traitement de diverses maladies infectieuses. L'huile extraite des fruits contribue à la production des savons et des parfums.
• Afrostyrax lepidophyllus (oignon de pays). Le fruit est une noix sèche indéhiscente, à graine unique, avec un exocarpe brun et dur. Il dégage une odeur caractéristique de l'oignon. Les fruits écrasés sont utilisés pour assaisonner les aliments.
• Dacryodes eludis (safou, prune, beurre sauvage). Les fruits sont bouillis et le mésocarpe consommé.
• Cola acuminata (noix de cola). Les graines sont mâchées pour stimuler le système nerveux. Elles sont aussi utilisées pour couper l'appétit.
Cependant les fruits d'Irvingia gabonensis et d'Afrostyrax lepidophyllus sont les plus récoltés par rapport aux Piper guineense, Dacryodes eludis et Cola acuminata. Ces différences au niveau des récoltes et des ventes s'expliquent par l'usage de chacun des fruits.
Le paradoxe c'est que tout le potentiel de la production des fruits comestibles de la RFMR n'est pas suffisamment exploité. À la sous-estimation de la diversité des fruits s'ajoutent le manque d'informations et le risque lié à la destruction progressive de la forêt. Or l'afflux des commerçants de fruits venant du Nigeria devrait faire en sorte que la récolte de ces fruits profite à l'économie de ces villages.
Cet article, une sorte d'éveil de conscience, a permis d'inventorier quelques plantes à fruits comestibles rencontrées dans la Réserve forestière des Monts Rumpi, mais surtout de mettre en avant l'importance de ces ressources pour les régions avoisinantes. (Source: Département de biologie végétale, Faculté des sciences, Université de Dschang, BP 67, Dschang, Cameroun.)
Northern Forest Diversification Centre
The Northern Forest Diversification Centre (NFDC) is a subsidiary of Keewatin Community College and is located in The Pas, about 600 km north of Winnipeg. It currently operates as a demonstration project funded by Western Economic Diversification and the Province of Manitoba.
Keewatin Community College's geographic territory covers all of Manitoba north of the 53rd parallel. This region comprises five urban centres and approximately 65 remote or semi-remote communities. The total population of the region is 79 000, of which approximately 50 percent are of aboriginal descent, residing predominantly in the remote communities. Keewatin Community College operates two campuses, five regional centres and training sites in several other communities, depending upon demand.
The programme targets unemployed or underemployed residents of remote communities in northern Manitoba. While there are no population restrictions placed on participating in the programme, the programme's focus on remote communities means that almost all participants are aboriginal. In addition, more than 75 percent of programme participants to date have been women.
The NFDC's conceptual base is to link the demand for wild, natural products and ecologically harmonious recreational experiences with the need to create sustainable and culturally appropriate employment opportunities in remote communities. Economic forecasters indicate that the potential of these two emergent industries - the non-timber forest products industry and ecotourism - is to achieve a fourfold increase.
Non-timber forest products (NTFP) typically refer to a wide variety of products derived from forests, including aromatics, cones and seeds, forest botanicals, nutriceuticals, wild flower honey, conifer boughs, wide rice, berries, maple and birch sap products, mushrooms and medicinal herbs. While the term NTFP is relatively unknown, a consumer simply has to walk into any craft store, pharmacy, supermarket, garden centre, florist shop, gift stand, market garden or health food store to see the many uses of NTFPs.
Ecotourism is an economic activity at the heart of the "green economy", where tourist dollars turn local people into entrepreneurs and partners in conservation. Ecotourism depends upon local resources, wisdom and expertise, and translates these into economic advantage at the local level. Indeed, the definition of ecotourism is "... responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people".
Both of these industries are based on the sustainable use of local products and environments in a way that is compatible with the skills, knowledge, culture and aspirations of residents of remote communities. Furthermore, the long-term viability of these two industries is founded upon conserving - even enhancing - the biodiversity of the natural environment to the greatest extent possible.
With 51 percent of its landmass covered by boreal forest, Manitoba is a veritable storehouse of NTFPs. Its rich history and culture, huge expanses of unspoiled wilderness and lakes and diverse ecosystems ranging from prairie to tundra provide Manitoba with the potential to become an ecotourist's paradise.
Linking the supply of these natural resources to the growing demand that exists for them, and to do so in ways that create sustainability and maximum benefit for those who live closest to the resource, is the vision of the NFDC.
In keeping with the community college mission, the NFDC aims to provide learning that will restore the self-respect and self-sufficiency of adults who have been culturally and economically marginalized through inappropriate social and economic change.
The NFDC is an innovative community economic development model. It directly links adult learning with income generation, while also sustaining local cultural values, enhancing individual self-respect, re-establishing traditional harvesting practices and returning income to the community.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Doug Lauvstad, Director,
Planning and External Relations,
PO Box 3000,
The Pas, Manitoba R9A 1M7,
Fax: +1 204 6237316;
Medicinal Plant Project, Canada
For the past year, a variety of commercially valuable medicinal and nutraceutical botanicals have been cultivated on a section of BC (British Colombia) Hydro's right of way on the Sunshine Coast, as part of the Medicinal Plant project.
The purpose of the Medicinal Plant project is to:
• showcase the commercial potential of cultivating medicinal and nutraceutical botanicals;
• show the compatible uses of BC Hydro's rights of way;
• encourage private sector growers, small landholders and First Nations to develop their own medicinal plant operations;
• discourage unregulated commercial harvesting of wild plant species from British Colombian forests, which can cause significant environmental damage; and
• demonstrate alternative forest practice methods that can be adopted throughout the province.
Maintaining its rights of way and promoting low-growing plant species helps BC Hydro increase safety and reliability by reducing the number of power outages caused by trees and branches coming in contact with power lines. Medicinal plants demonstrate the company's commitment to environmental sustainability and compatible uses of its rights of way. BC Hydro is contributing $150 000 to help fund the MP project, which involves growing selected, commercially viable, botanical species including Echinacea, St John's wort, mullein and devil's club. These species are well suited to the unique combination of conditions found on the rights of way, require minimal tending once established and are in demand as cash crops. Shade-tolerant medicinal plants are also being grown on the periphery of the right-of-way corridor. Both native and non-native plants and fungi with a variety of beneficial properties have been planted.
The final report of this medicinal plant project is available from: email@example.com (Contributed by: Russel Wills; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org )
North Island non-timber forest products projects
The Inner Coast Natural Resource Centre (ICNRC) has been at the forefront of NTFP development on North Island (Vancouver) since its formation in 1997. With the help of external partners such as the University of Victoria and the Royal Roads University, ICNRC has sponsored two NTFP workshops, a regional strategy session and a major NTFP demonstration project.
From these projects, the following issues were identified:
• significant potential for NTFP-based economic development;
• concern about the possibility of overexploitation of yet another set of natural resources;
• lack of information about, and management of, the sector;
• potential implications of NTFP industry expansion for First Nations.
One of the strongest issues that emerged from the first NTFP workshop in 1998 was the conviction that in British Columbia there is still an opportunity to "get this industry right".
"beneath the Trees"
To receive a copy of BENEATH THE TREES, the North Island Non-Timber Forest Products Newsletter, please contact:
Subsequent projects have helped lay the groundwork for the development of new business and employment opportunities. The most recent NTFP demonstration project sponsored by ICNRC in 2000-2001 played a role in:
• the creation of two to three new businesses;
• the creation of approximately 20 jobs in the region (both seasonal and full-time);
• the expansion/enhancement of three existing enterprises;
• the development of an NTFP inventory methodology.
Many of those who benefited from the project were First Nations residents and others impacted by downturns in the traditional forestry and fishing sectors. Perhaps most important, the demonstration project served as a foundation for further NTFP work on North Island, such as the current Integrated Demonstration Project for Non-Timber Forest Products led by Royal Roads University.
The ICNRC hopes to provide a repository for information gathered through this project (e.g. reports, maps) and to help communicate project results through their Web site.
For more information, please contact:
Darcy A. Mitchell,
Royal Roads University,
Project Leader, Box 32,
Fax: +1 250 9736168;
Innovación tecnológica y comercial de Productos Forestales No Madereros (PFNM) en Chile
En Chile tenemos una amplia variedad de PFNM que constituyeron los alimentos, medicinas y utensilios que tuvieron los primeros habitantes del país. Hoy aún son de una importancia capital, ya que más de la mitad de la población tiene como ayuda medicinal de primera necesidad el uso de plantas medicinales, yerbas, cortezas, frutos, hojas, y otros productos se utilizan como materiales de construcción, tejido y alimento. Grupos étnicos, como los pehuenches, utilizan el pehuén o piñón de la araucaria como su principal alimento. Tradicionalmente también ha habido un desconocimiento oficial del aporte de los PFNM a la economía nacional, local y especialmente rural, y a la alimentación de vastos sectores de la población, generalmente los más pobres, y de su contribución como fuente de trabajo a más de 200 000 personas en zonas deprimidas y en épocas de mayor escasez de trabajo.
El presente proyecto apunta a contribuir a la formalización y expansión de la actividad económica que genera la utilización racional de los PFNM. El objetivo general es «perfeccionar la gestión tecnológica y comercial de los PFNM asociados a la actividad silvícola nacional, e incrementar su productividad y rentabilidad en función de la demanda de los mercados nacionales e internacionales».
El proyecto contempla en su esquema metodológico, la obtención, análisis y validación del conocimiento de los sistemas productivos derivados del bosque, a partir del actual estado de desarrollo de las diferentes cadenas productivas. Se espera obtener información del conjunto de los PFNM, para luego focalizar las investigaciones y desarrollo hacia uno o dos productos seleccionados entre los de mayor relevancia e importancia económica.
Las investigaciones pertinentes comprenden el análisis de todos los eslabones de la cadena productiva de los productos seleccionados, de aspectos de biología y ecología de la especie, silvicultura y manejo, y de los métodos de recolección y cosecha, los tratamientos pre y post cosecha, manipulación, normalización, comercialización y escalamiento más adecuado, para transferir luego este conocimiento a los actores involucrados en el tema.
Participarán en este proyecto dos institutos de investigación y desarrollo (INFOR e INTEC-Chile) que disponen de amplios conocimientos y experiencia en el sector forestal, en general, y en los PFNM, en particular. Se ha incorporado, además, a un grupo de empresas, grupos campesinos y étnicos, e instituciones nacionales como CONAF, INDAP, CONADI, que han participado activamente tanto en la formulación y, como se espera, en la ejecución del proyecto. Diversas instituciones extranjeras brindarán su apoyo a través de asistencia técnica y asesorías en materias pertinentes; tal es el caso de la FAO, de la Academia China de Ciencias Forestales(CAF), de la Red Internacional del Bambú y Ratán (INBAR) y de entidades de Europa y Asia interesadas en el desarrollo y conservación armonioso de los bosques nativos.
La metodología de transferencia considera la capacitación y articulación entre operadores forestales, empresas vinculadas, organizaciones e instituciones. Se utilizarán técnicas tradicionales de difusión como seminarios, días de campo, charlas, exposiciones, y métodos más modernos ya antes señalados. Además, se utilizarán los medios de difusión e intercambio utilizando tecnología actualizada, estableciendo una página Web del proyecto y difundiendo a través de la actual Red de PFNM que opera en el servidor de INTEC-Chile, así como utilizando la Plataforma de Educación a Distancia de ésta institución. Se producirán además CD-ROM con material recopilado por el proyecto que se pondrá a disposición de los usuarios. (Contribución de: G. Valdebenito R.)
Para más información, dirigirse a:
Gerardo Valdebenito R.,
Director de Proyecto,
Instituto Forestal de Chile,
Huérfanos 554, Santiago, Chile.
Fax: +56 2 6381286;
correo electrónico: email@example.com;
The creation of markets and trade plays a central role in strategies that aim at merging conservation goals with improved local welfare. But increased wealth and exposure to markets may have unforeseen side effects. Josefien Demmer and Han Overman studied these effects among Tawahka Indians in Honduras and Tropenbos International has published the results.
The Tawahka Asangi Biosphere Reserve in Honduras was created in 1999 to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with sustainable use and the protection of indigenous land rights. Despite this protected status, the Tawahka territory is not free from the effects of the market. The results of this study suggest that people intensify their use of forest resources as their links with outside economies and wealth are strengthened.
Increasing levels of wealth and integration into the market appear to result in higher per capita pressure on forest resources. Some species face more pressure than others, however. Plants that provide thatch and timber for canoes and board, in particular, face more intensive exploitation with increased integration and wealth, while red brocket deer, peccaries, spider monkeys and some birds are among the animal species that are more intensively hunted.
The effects of integration into markets cannot be assessed, however, on the basis of extraction data alone. The authors argue that the effects of income-generating forest use and increases in the area of cultivated land should also be taken into account. For example, cash generated by ecotourism may have negative side effects on the forest, because of agricultural expansion.
There are also the dynamics of foraging economies. Most of the wealthier and more integrated Tawahka households have abandoned forest-based activities for more profitable occupations (e.g. agriculture, shops, wage labour). It is also highly probable that more prosperous communities increase in population size. The authors therefore conclude that increasing wealth and integration into markets are likely to lead to the concentration of people in one place, as well as to higher rates of per capita consumption. They expect that "sooner or later, the need for management and collectively accepted agreements on forest resource use will be required."
In order to reduce pressure on certain species, the two researchers suggest:
• exploring the possibilities for setting up pig farms;
• discouraging sales of canoes and boards to outsiders;
• establishing mixed tree plantations and introducing wood preservatives, lesser known species and Amazonian canoe-building techniques.
Demmer and Overman demonstrate that the annual value of the forest accruing to the Tawahka ranges from US$17.8 to $23.7 per hectare. This combined value of consumption and the sale of forest goods is only a small fraction of the value that the global community attaches to services of the forest such as climate regulation, CO2 absorption and erosion reduction. This leads to the conclusion that the global community should consider compensating villagers for foregone benefits if they would be willing to refrain from activities that lead to deforestation and forest depletion. This would increase the financial incentives for conservation as well as raise local welfare. The specifics of such mechanisms should be negotiated between policy-makers, NGOs and indigenous groups. Demmer and Overman believe that this could be a promising long-term management strategy for indigenous reserves, because it covers the direct interests of the stakeholders. (J. Demmer and H. Overman. 2001. Indigenous people conserving the rain forest? The effect of wealth and markets on the economic behaviour of Tawahka Amerindians in Honduras. Tropenbos Series 19. Tropenbos International, Wageningen, the Netherlands. ISBN 90-5113-053-8.)
This publication can be ordered from:
PO Box 232, 6700 AE Wageningen,
Fax: +31 317 495520;
The Atavi (Atavika) forest tribes derive their livelihood in most part from the forest, as is evident from their life style - eating, clothes and household design, etc. The forests and tribals live in harmony in what might be called the anthroposylvan ecosystem; the forest is a living complex and so is humankind. More than 90 percent of their needs are met through the collection, consumption and sale of NTFPs, which not only provide sporadic support by providing short-term monetary gain, but also by providing employment to all, irrespective of caste, creed, age, sex and economic viability over the year.
The contribution of NTFPs to the food security base of the hill dwellers is quite significant year-round in terms of supply of leaves, fruits, roots, tubers and barks. By and large, these products are sustained to a close market economy of the tribals, where collection, value addition and disposal are carried out at the local level. These products are mostly sold in raw form with a little value addition through sun drying or no value addition at the primary collectors' level. Marketing linkage for these products is available at the village level in the form of badla deeds, i.e. exchange of NTFPs against essential goods such as salt, kerosene and chilli.
NTFPs constitute the major produce on which tribals are dependent. The livelihoods of people in the surrounding forest areas in general are intricately linked with the availability of NTFPs.
A recent paper by Susanta Kumar Barik attempts to serve two purposes. It sets out the contribution of a broad range of NTFPs, especially mahua, tamarind and hill brooms, and also to what degree they contribute to the sustenance on the tribal livelihoods.
For more information, please contact:
Susanta Kumar Barik, Research Officer,
ODI, M.P. Livelihoods Option Project,
E-8/19, Basant kunj,
Arera Colony, Bhopal (M.P.),
Institutional and socio-economic factors and enabling policies for NTFP-based development in northeastern India
The purpose of a recent paper by Madhav Kharki on NTFP enabling policies in northeastern India was to raise some basic issues and postulate a few ideas in the context of exploring and defining new approaches to development planning and project implementation in northeastern India. It is based on the premise that development of a pristine, biodiversity rich and culturally sensitive region such as the northeast is a serious and delicate affair. This region, which has so far failed to institute a system of sustainable management of its vast natural resources for the welfare of its people, lags far behind on the development ladder in comparison with other Indian states and needs fast-paced development efforts. However, appropriate development of the northeastern region, aimed at sustainable improvements in the quality of life of the local people, may need a different approach, one which is integrated and holistic on multiple fronts such as: internalization of environmental considerations in development planning, improving knowledge of and information on the realizable potential of the region's natural resources, clear understanding of the suitable approach and concrete operationalization of community-based planning and a decision-making framework. The sustainable production and conservation of forest products, especially NTFPs, are influenced by a number of factors, largely socio-economic and institutional in nature. Unsustainable harvesting of the plant materials from the wild by collectors, mostly for sale in outside markets, and people's lack of awareness about the real value of the resources, are two important causes of overharvesting.
The paper is organized in five parts. Part one describes the dilemma faced by northeastern states between development goals and environment imperatives. Part two talks about the forestry sector being the lead sector and the comparative advantage enjoyed by NTFPs for basing the region's development. Part three argues for an incentive-based management approach for pushing individuals, groups, clans and local self-government units into managing NTFPs to generate maximum benefits. Part four lays emphasis on developing an enabling institutional and policy framework, specifically a state tenure system so that the real stakeholders, such as tillers or the conservers of the resource, have secure access to the resources and obtain the maximum benefit from the investment in land.
For copies of a full transcript or for more information, please contact:
Regional Program Coordinator,
Medicinal & Aromatic Plants Program in Asia (MAPPA),
(IDRC, Canada; SARO), 208,
Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003,
Fax: +91 11 4622707;
Biodiversity-based products for poverty alleviation in Madhya Pradesh
Forests are nature's greatest gift to humankind. Since time immemorial, humans have depended upon forests for their various needs, be it food, fodder, fibres, fertilizers, medicine and construction material, etc. A recent study carried out by Peoples for Animals (PFA) discusses the "back to nature" trend and the consequent rejuvenated worldwide interest in "minor forest products". PFA argues that this is a misnomer since it indicates a secondary status to these groups of products in comparison with timber, while in reality it is just the opposite as biodiversity-based products are the basis for a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide.
Internationally these are better referred to as "non-wood forest products (NWFP)" or "non-timber forest products (NTFP)" and are defined as "including all goods of biological origin, as well as services, derived from forest or any land under similar use and exclude wood in all its forms". This definition does not distinguish between the biodiversity-based product available wild in nature and the one that is cultivated. The definition of biodiversity-based products, however, has been amended: Government of Madhya Pradesh Circular No. F-26/8/97/10-3 dated 15/5/1998 defines the term "minor forest produce" as "non wood forest produce, which can be exploited without harming the forest and will not include minerals as well as forest animals or animal parts".
Generally, the term biodiversity-based product is considered to be synonymous with medicinal and aromatic plants, but in reality the term biodiversity-based product includes a wide array of products from the plant and animal kingdoms and having varied uses. According to one classification, biodiversity-based produce covers nine broad and 17 subcategories of products. The nine broad categories comprise: edible plant and plant parts, fatty oils (edible and non edible), gums, resins, oleoresins, seed gums, etc., medicinal plants, tans and dyes, fibre and flosses including grasses, bamboos and canes, petroleum substitutes, and miscellaneous biodiversity-based products (products of animal and plant origin, floral and decorative crafts, etc.).
The above classification, however, excludes ecotourism, which has recently caught the imagination of planners and tourists alike and is likely to emerge as an important forest-dependent commercial activity in the service sector. (Source: Extracted from the executive summary of the research study, Bio-diversity based products for poverty alleviation in Madhya Pradesh.)
For more information, please contact:
Dr R. Sugandhi,
Senior Research Officer and President,
Peoples for Animals, 179,
Kalpana Nagar, Raisen Road,
Bhopal (M.P.) 462 021,
Jordan women's cooperative protects Ajloun forest and changes lives
The women's cooperative of Jabal Al Akhdar and Khshaibeh, two villages in northern Jordan, is taking a pioneering path leading to bigger roles in decision-making, new income-earning opportunities and more protection for the area's endangered Ajloun forest.
A US$31 000 grant from the UNDP Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) has helped the 140 members of the cooperative improve their livelihoods and communities while protecting the environment.
Since some villages still do not allow women to work or participate in income-generating activities "our cooperative represents a step forward, not only supporting women as economic participants, but also empowering them to be active decision-makers in the community and at home," said Jehad Amarat, head of the cooperative in Jabal Al Akhdar.
The cooperative produces environmental education materials and has created a pool of trainers on forest management and environmental issues. This helps create awareness among schoolchildren, parents and teachers of the importance of preserving the environment. Members also construct cisterns, used with drip irrigation systems, and carry out land reclamation activities.
``I got a loan of US$280 from the cooperative to finance planting trees and thyme seedlings and to buy pipes for irrigation and water tanks," said one participant. After paying back the loan, she got a second one to raise turkeys, chickens and rabbits, and also received training, focusing on irrigation and thyme cultivation. "Many women came to me requesting information," she said. "I told them what I'd learned, and nearly ten have started their own projects." Last year she harvested 110 kg of thyme and sold some to neighbours. They dried and packed it and sold it in the market.
The Ministry of Agriculture, recognizing the cooperative's achievements, has allocated it land for a permanent office and authorized the group to use a tenth of a hectare in the national forest reserve for tree conservation and environmentally sound income-generating activities, including beekeeping and harvesting wild sumac, used as a spice.
The national SGP coordinator in Jordan reported that in three years, through activities financed by SGP, almost half of the people in the villages have increased their income and around 80 percent have reliable access to water at home. The initiative also cooperates with a local watershed management project, which provided five specialists who worked closely with the local people. (Source: Newsfront, UNDP, 31 January 2002.)
There's more to natural forests than just timber
The economic value of indigenous forest resources has often been defined in terms of timber and wood-based products. While timber is the predominant commercial product from forests, increased attention is now turning to the role of non-timber forest products. These products include food, medicinal plants, fodder, fuelwood and charcoal. Others are soil, sand, mushrooms, game meat and honey.
Although these products are not reflected in the national statistics on forest products, they are particularly important to forest-dwellers and communities living adjacent to forests. In Kenya, about 2.9 million people live within 5 km of an indigenous forest. Of these, 70 000 households are adjacent to dry-zone forests. The number is much higher when tree utilization in the arid and semi-arid zones is considered. Indigenous forests also produce other benefits which are difficult to measure, including biological diversity, water, climate amelioration and tourist attractions. Apart from subsistence, there is growing evidence of commercialization of products such as honey and herbal medicines.
Forest products form a significant part of the household economy in many areas. It is estimated that the average forest-adjacent household earns KSh 9 020, KSh 7 650 and KSh 2 270 yearly from forest use in Kakamega, Arabuko-Sokoke and Mau, respectively. The corresponding value for the forest-dwelling Ogieks is KSh 17 300. [US$1 = KSh 79.6, November 2001.]
Forest-harvested foods may constitute a regular and integrated part of a household's diet. The fruit of the "sausage" tree, Kigelia abyssinica, is commonly used by communities around Mt Kenya to make the famous muratina brew and coconut palms are the source of mnazi at the coast.
On the other hand, wild animals are the source of meat, hides and skins. The Mijikenda of Arabuko-Sokoke regularly hunt up to 50 species of forest birds and animals.
Surveys done in the 1990s by the Kenya Indigenous Forest Conservation project established that the monetary values for the major forest products - fibres, grazing, honey, hunting and others - amounted to KSh 149.7 million, KSh 322.3 million, KSh 139.2 million, KSh 172.2 million and KSh 68.9 million, respectively. On a national scale, these conclusions implied a total annual value of KSh 850 million.
The oils and resins industry is considered to have good commercial potential. Acacia senegal, which is found in arid areas, produces gum arabic, a valuable additive in beer, confectionery and pharmaceuticals. A resin of commercial value is oleoresin, which is obtained from Pinus species.
Rosin Kenya Limited produces oleoresin and is the sole supplier to the pulp and the paper industry in Kenya. Despite a ban on its harvesting, aloe extract is illegally obtained and used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
All indigenous forests in Kenya are threatened because unsustainable commercial harvesting has resulted in widespread destruction. This is the case with Prunus africana, which is in high demand for export, mainly to the United States. Extracts from the bark are used clinically for the treatment of prostate ailments. The result is that the species is now severely depleted and in urgent need of conservation measures.
In spite of a government ban, Aloe species have also been overexploited for their leaf extract, which is used widely in the treatment of human and livestock ailments, and some are on the verge of extinction.
Hunting is now on the wane in some regions largely because of declining animal populations.
Owing to limited indigenous forest areas in Kenya, the focus is now shifting to the pros and cons of exploiting these resources in relation to crucial questions related to the ecology of non-timber forest products. These questions would define the ecological bottom-line of non-timber forest resource exploitation, and it would be unwise to continue ignoring them.
Valuable as they are, it would only be prudent to extract non-timber resources in a sustainable manner. (Source: Daily Nation, 29 November 2001.)
Indigenous Food Plants Programme
With its extensive galleries, exhibits library, education and research resources, including ethnographic, botanical, zoological and archaeological collections, the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is well-positioned to act on its mission to "collect, document and preserve, to study and present our past and present cultural and natural heritage and to enhance knowledge, appreciation, respect, management and use of these resources for the benefit of Kenya and the world". In all its activities it supports the biological and cultural diversity of eastern Africa, through research, conservation, information documentation and dissemination, and education activities.
Based within the NMK, the East African Herbarium holds the largest botanical collection in tropical Africa comprising more than 700 000 plant specimens, used for regional studies of plant taxonomy and related studies such as plant distribution (e.g. Forest Coastal Survey) and plant use (e.g. Indigenous Food Plants Programme).
Patrick Maundu, Grace Ngugi and Christine Kabuye worked for many years on the Indigenous Food Plants Programme, which documented many of the edible plant species of Kenya, especially ones that are gathered in the "wild". One result is the fact-filled volume Traditional food plants of Kenya, published by the National Museums of Kenya in 1999.
(Source: People and Plants Handbook, issue 7 [September 2001].)
For more information, please contact:
Patrick M. Maundu,
Centre for Biodiversity,
National Museums of Kenya,
PO Box 40658,
Fax: +254 2 741424;
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Many traditional plant foods are characteristically energy-rich and play a crucial nutritional role during hunger periods. They may be equally important during periods when people have less time for food preparation, such as during peak agricultural seasons, or in arid regions where seasonal food-supply fluctuations are particularly acute. Commelina spp., for example, is strategically available at the beginning of the rainy season before other species can be harvested ...
... Many traditional food plants grow wild. Therefore, where they are accessible, they can be collected freely and are thus are available to everyone, including the poor. But these traditional vegetables may also conveniently be grown within the homestead in kitchen or home gardens ...
... All wild species treated in this book are occasionally consciously protected by the communities in areas where they occur and therefore are often spared when vegetation is being cleared. A few may also be managed in their natural habitat, while in other species seeds, saplings, cuttings or other parts of the plant are collected for propagation in fields or home gardens.
Non-timber forest products boost rural incomes
Non-timber forest products have the potential to contribute substantially to the national economy, especially if they are used in a sustainable way. People throughout the country earn about US$5 per year selling products collected from natural forests. This is the official figure since the unofficial one is not known.
It is popularly recognized that rural people, who comprise about 80 percent of the national population, rely on the biodiversity of local forests. Merchants make a profitable trade purchasing products from rural people with negotiable prices. Most people collect products from the forest without thinking about their protection. An important part of sustaining natural resources is educating people to know when to ease the exploitation of precious materials. Many people also know very little about the tremendous potential of forest materials and NTFPs are being threatened owing to careless harvesting methods and an increasing population.
The government, therefore, established the Non-timber Forest Products (NTFP) Project to help rural people discover sustainable and beneficial ways to develop the resources that form a part of their traditional lifestyles. This latest initiative is being sponsored by the Netherlands Government and executed by the Lao Government.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has implemented a pilot project in Oudomsay, Champassak and Saravan provinces, aimed at creating examples of the efficient use of NTFPs in order to provide a sustainable future for the country and its natural resources. The project found there are more NTFPs in the north than in any other part of the country. Most of the products, such as bitter bamboo shoots, benzoin, toud tien and cardamom are exported to China.
In Champassak, the project concentrated on protecting and using NTFPs. The project has successfully encouraged local people to grow eaglewood, a fragrant tree used in medicine and perfume production. More than 30 ha of eaglewood have been planted in Champassak; other parts of the country are also growing it in an enthusiastic manner. Project officials believe that in the next ten years people who grow the wood will be very wealthy owing to the high price that one litre of oil distilled from eaglewood brings. The project has focused on utilizing NTFPs from national conservation areas in Saravan province, in which 50 families earn their living.
Besides conservation activities, the project is also involved in trading by organizing meetings to create a product understanding among the local merchants and producers in order to prepare these businesses for entry into the world market. Demand for cardamom, benzoin, eaglewood and bong bark is high in the world market.
The project will explore the problems, needs and opportunities related to developing forest resources, in pilot projects carried out all over the Lao People's Democratic Republic during the past six years. The project will facilitate discussions into the future of Lao natural resources, and forest products in particular. According to the Director of the NTFP project, the lessons gained from these pilot projects will enhance the ability of all provinces, at the district level, to develop, sustain and benefit from Lao forest resources. (Source: Vientiane Times, 5 April 2001.)
Forest for when the rice runs out
To the people living in the Lao uplands being poor means using up all their rice and having no cash or cattle they can sell to buy more rice. When that happens they turn to the forest. They hunt, fish and harvest wild cardamom, bamboo shoots and vegetables, as well as resins, rattan canes and other products. They consume some of these directly. Others they sell to buy rice. In many remote upland villages these products provide 40 to 60 percent of household incomes. For the poorest families the percentage is often much higher. Forest products have traditionally been available when people need them the most.
For many of these people life is getting harder. Owing to population growth, government policies and outsiders encroaching on their forest many families now have less land where they can practice shifting cultivation. Overharvesting has depleted many forest products.
John Raintree and Viloune Soydara recently wrote a report on the "Human ecology and rural livelihoods of Laos". They argue that while the Lao Government says all the right things about the problems, it has yet to implement effective policies to deal with them. The Lao Land Allocation programme, which regulates where farmers can practise shifting cultivation, needs to be more flexible and participatory and focus more on land-use planning, rather than on allocating specific plots to farmers. The government's community forestry policies should focus more on the secondary and degraded forests on which poor people depend. The government should also ensure that policies concerning NTFPs do not lead to greater overharvesting of those resources or increase the competition between poor people and powerful interest groups.
Without ongoing access to forest resources, poor people in the Lao uplands will go hungry. When they run out of rice they go to the forest. When they run out of forest, where will they go?
To request a free electronic copy of the paper or to send comments or queries to the author, please contact John Raintree at: email@example.com
A useful new report, Lao PDR, Production Forest Policy, prepared by the World Bank, SIDA and the Lao and Finnish Governments, can be found at the World Bank Web site (www.worldbank.org/html;extdr/regions.htm). (Source: David Kaimowitz, Polex Listserve [firstname.lastname@example.org].)
The following primary trees found in Lebanon have reported or suspected medicinal properties.
West mountains of Mount Lebanon, between 0 and 2 000 m altitude; in Bekaa, South Riyyak and in southern Lebanon
Powdered bark used to treat intestinal tapeworms and for dysentery and other stomach trouble
Coastal areas and on the inferior slopes of coastal mountains, between 0 and 1 000 m altitude
The pulp has antidiarrhoea properties, the gum serves as a suspending agent, absorbent demulcent, lubricant
Localized in the northern part of the country, between 0 and 1 000 m altitude
External usage against varicose ulcers
West and east mountains of Mount Lebanon, between 300 and 2 000 m altitude
Mostly used to treat blood circulation disorders
Between 0 and 2 000 m altitude
The extracted mannitol is used as an osmotic diuretic and as an excipient
West mountains of Mount Lebanon, between 300 and 2 000 m altitude; in Bekaa, South of Zahleh, towards Baalbek and in Hermon
Leaves are astringent eupeptic with a hypoglycaemia action. The extracted juglone is antiseptic and keratinizing
Between 1 000 and 2 800 m altitude
Diuretic and eupeptic
Coastal areas, between 0 and 2 000 m, and southern Lebanon
External usage, stimulant
Coastal areas and mountains, up to 1 000 m altitude
Anthelmintic remedy for intestinal worms and parasitic skin diseases
West mountains of Mount Lebanon, between 0 and 1 500 m
Mostly antiseptic, for pectoral (respiratory) infections
West mountains of Mount Lebanon, up to 1 600 m altitude
Astringent for external and internal usage
West mountains of Mount Lebanon, between 1 400 and 2 000 m altitude
Laxative and purgative
Not all of the above plants are accepted as official medicinal plants in the pharmacopoeias and some reflect the traditional usage. Nevertheless, there is a growing market in the Western world for the use of natural medicines in preference to synthetic pharmaceuticals. International pharmaceutical companies are ready to spend millions of dollars for clinical trials and for the development of new and naturally based drugs.
The estimated market value of medicinal and aromatic plants produced by forests in Lebanon is US$18.6 million based on 1994 figures. The varied Lebanon climate had led to a rich abundance of many wild plant species, including medicinal trees. However, only recently has a study on the possible uses and potential of those plants been undertaken. An agreement has recently been signed between Earth University in Costa Rica and the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences of the American University of Beirut, which aims at exploring the efficacy of some endogenous medicinal plant species and the commercial development of new drugs based on these species. (Source: Extracted from the report of the follow-up meeting for the development and coordination of regional activities on non-wood forest products in the Near East.)
Forest tribes plead for their rights
The controversy over the destruction of rain forests is a real and immediate problem for the indigenous tribal people of Sarawak State of Malaysia, according to one of the tribe's representatives. Two tribal members were in Japan in October 2001 to talk about the continued destruction of the world's oldest rain forest.
One of them, Pedapaan, remembers the days when his nomadic Penan tribe, natives of Borneo and believed to be the last hunter-gatherers on earth, wandered the forest in bands and hunted for food. They built light, thatched shelters of bamboo or softwood, hunted animals and gathered sago palm, from which they pounded out a starchy paste. Pedapaan said that they did not have to bring anything into the forest because everything that was needed was there, the pitcher plant became pots and pans for cooking, and if they became ill, they knew which plants would cure disease or treat injuries. In addition, they did not kill more animals than were needed for food.
That life and the orderly rule of the nomads are gone forever. One day in the mid-1980s, Pedapaan and his tribe's people had their first encounter with chainsaws, bulldozers and logging company men. The logging company then showed the Penans a map and told them that the forest did not belong to the Penans, but to the logging company. Their traditional culture and livelihood were suddenly forced into a new economy, which was unable to embrace their desires and rights.
The state government offered indigenous people longhouses to settle in and farmland to cultivate. But Pedapaan claims that agriculture had never been part of their tradition and that the longhouses were uncomfortable. Logging caused river contamination and fish became scarce. Poisoned water led to a rise in the deaths of children. The loud noise of chainsaws and bulldozers scared away the animals they hunted. In 1987, Pedapaan and his friends blockaded the road in an attempt to stop loggers from entering the forest.
He and his wife were later arrested, as were 103 others on different occasions, for protesting against logging. Pedapaan's trial is ongoing. Arrests deprive the indigenous people of much-needed work, and payments to lawyers are more than they can afford. According to an NGO, 2.8 million hectares of forest - more than five times the entire area of Tokyo - were destroyed in Malaysia. This area included most of the forest where the Penans lived. Japan was the largest importer of Malaysian timber in 1999, consuming nearly a third of the timber exported from that country.
"What we want now is for the government to recognize our right to land," Pedapaan said. "Big companies are logging even young trees these days and it is impossible for us to go back to our traditional way of life."
An overlooked facet of the Penans is their wide knowledge of medicinal plants. According to Wade Davis, who has studied 20 tribes of the Amazon and South America, the knowledge of the forest by the Penans surpasses all of them. According to Pedapaan, there has been no request from the government for his people to share their knowledge, which will eventually be lost when the plants disappear from the forest, making it impossible for the knowledge to be passed on to young Penans. (Source: Daily Yomiuri, 12 December 2001 in RECOFTC e-letter 2001.16.)
An argan oil cooperative is changing women's lives in Morocco
A cooperative (of 50 women) run exclusively by women in Tamanar, in the Essaouira region of Morocco, has integrated itself into the economy by capitalizing on a piece of ancestral knowledge.
The key is the argan or Moroccan ironwood, a long-lived tree that grows nowhere but in Morocco. Today it is threatened: in less than a century, more than a third of the argan forest has disappeared. Yet, with 20 million trees covering 800 000 ha, it is the second most important forest species in Morocco and, although neglected, is a very valuable resource. The argan holds great promise as an oil-producer and constitutes a veritable "green curtain" against the relentless onslaught of the desert. Above all, it represents a source of income for people on the margins of society who have few other means of livelihood: in fact, the forest can provide subsistence for as many as 3 million people.
At the heart of the struggle to preserve this tree, on which so many women condemned to poverty have pinned their hopes, stands a researcher from the Faculty of Sciences at Rabat, Zoubida Charrouf and a research project supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). This project has two objectives: to preserve the argan forest by finding a sustainable economic use for its products, and to improve the social and economic status of rural women. Towards this end, the British Embassy has helped purchase equipment for the cooperative.
Traditional knowledge in the form of a simple gesture repeated thousands of times is key to the project's success. Since time immemorial, the women who live in arid regions - particularly in southwestern Morocco - have depended on this almost mythical tree. Its wood is used as fuel, its leaves and seeds as feed for goats. The tree has medicinal properties and its oil both nourishes and beautifies. Indeed, argan oil is reputed for its almost magical powers, but extracting it is difficult and time-consuming. Dr Charrouf's idea was to form a cooperative among the destitute and illiterate women who depend on the argan, help them mechanize the process and sell their output so they can earn a decent living. From this idea was born the argan oil cooperative. Today it employs nearly 50 women on a full-time basis and another 100 part-time, and has the distinction of being the first female-run argan oil cooperative in Morocco.
Life for women in Tamanar has changed, slowly but surely. The argan and its products are sources of hope, for women, for the region, and for the struggle against desertification since cooperative members are also helping to replant the argan forest: each has committed herself to planting ten trees a year. Local tourism has also received a boost, and close to 100 people come every day to visit the cooperative.
Tamanar has become the capital of the argan industry, thanks to the mechanization of production. The Berber women no longer have to put in 20 hours of backbreaking work to extract a litre of oil. All of this success is due strictly to the efforts of women.
The Amal cooperative now has two sister organizations in the argan forest, one at Tidzi and the other at Mesti. Both have benefited from IDRC's support as well as that of other funding organizations, including the Canadian International Development Agency.
For more information, please contact:
Prof. Zoubida Charrouf,
Département de Chimie,
Faculté des Sciences,
Université Mohammed V,
Avenue Ibn Batouta, BP 1014,
Fax: +212 37 713279;
Medicinal plant garden
The Nepal Eco essential Medicinal Plants Society (NEEM), an NGO based in a remote area of Nepal, is looking for funding for a small project in Nepalganj that aims to:
• establish a medicinal plant garden for future generations;
• conserve biodiversity of tropical medicinal and aromatic plants;
• establish a green park in the heart of Nepalganj city;
• establish a live germplasm bank.
Nepalganj is famous for its NTFP trade. Nearly 60 percent of the whole NTFP trade in Nepal is carried out here. This district was previously known for its dense forest, but deforestation has caused the depletion of NTFP-producing trees and NTFP collection is now very poor in this area. The medicinal plants of the Terai are extremely important in the treatment of common ailments and people use them frequently for household remedies. The availability of such plants is becoming scarce, however, and local knowledge on using these plants is not being passed down to new generations.
An area of 3 ha is lying fallow in Nepalganj (in western Nepal) and the landowners, the Cremation Ground Management Committee, are eager to develop it as a medicinal plant garden. There are many sacred plants that are necessary for ritual work in the Hindu culture, but as a result of deforestation such plants are now rare.
To meet this demand, the NEEM Society in coordination with the Cremation Ground Management Committee has proposed a park-cum-medicinal plant garden. It will not only work as a conservatory, but also as a germplasm bank and an environment purifier. The medicinal plant garden will restore traditional knowledge of healing and also the Hindu rituals which have been abandoned owing to the scarcity of the necessary plant materials.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Rabindra N. Shukla,
Nepal Eco essential Medicinal Plants Society (NEEM Society),
Tribhuwan Chowk (East),
Salyani Bagia, Nepalganj (Banke),
Helping poor communities in Nepal benefit from tourism
Poor communities near some of Nepal's prime tourist destinations stand to reap greater economic benefits with help from an expanding programme. The initiative helps to reorient tourism policies to help rural communities where lower castes and ethnic minorities face poverty and discrimination, and aims to develop local strategies to attract tourists to villages in ways that are in harmony with local cultures and environments.
The programme began in 2001 in three popular tourist destinations with great potential for nearby communities: Dolpa, Lumbini and Chitwan. Support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) will enable the inclusion of three more communities near tourist destinations in mountainous districts: Sagarmatha, the Nepali name for Mount Everest, is home to a national park near the world's highest peak; Kanchenjunga, in the east, and Langtang, near Kathmandu, are also popular tourist areas.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, working with UNDP, plays a key role in implementing the project, in partnership with the Ministry of Finance. DFID is providing US$4.1 million for the new phase, building on more than US$1 million in support from the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) for the first phase.
(Source: Newsfront, UNDP, 17 January 2002.)
For more information, please contact:
Sangita Khadka, UNDP, Nepal.
E-mail: email@example.com ; or
Trygve Olfarnes, UNDP Communications Office.
NTFPs and poverty alleviation in Nepal
Poverty alleviation has found its place time and again as the goal of national plans and policies with very little results on the ground. The nature of poverty is diverse, as are its causes and victims; therefore the strategies to overcome poverty should also be diverse, recognizing the difference of people and their opportunities for sustainable living standards. Nepalese people are poor because they have not acquired essential assets since they live in remote areas where the resources available have not been properly identified and utilized.
Poverty is not only an income-determined outcome and therefore increasing attention is now placed on the capability factors of poverty. It is a multidimensional phenomenon and it is always difficult to disentangle its causes and consequences. The nature and quality of governance largely determines the results of development efforts and success of poverty strategies, irrespective of the quality of design and amount of investment.
Nepal is well known for its rich and vast biodiversity. Owing to the country's diverse climatic zones, non-timber forest products (NTFP) are distributed in all bioclimatic zones ranging from tropical to alpine. Collection and marketing of NTFPs has become a way of life for poor people in hilly areas to meet their daily needs.
The Terai also has different types of NTFPs which are as yet unexploited, but which are being destroyed as people are unaware of their importance. In the past, Terai forests were valued primarily as a source of timber, but now the harvesting of timber has either been banned or restricted. Therefore, the NTFPs of the Terai have tremendous potential for generating employment for rural communities during the lean months of agriculture. If the value of these products in terms of variety, volume and socio-economy is properly assessed, it will far exceed that of wood and timber.
NTFPs have been vitally important to the forest-dwellers and rural communities and can play a very vital role in poverty alleviation in Nepal. Many forest products that are used as staple food are also used as the sources of income, e.g. tannic acid, dyes, honey, nuts, fruit, mushrooms, oilseeds, insects, forage crops, medicines, genetic resources, etc.
It is necessary to identify and make proper use of such resources. With simple processing they can fetch a very good price in domestic markets and replace the import of similar products from other countries. For example, palm oil is imported for the soap and detergent industry while the seeds of sal, kusum, mahuwa and other fatty oil-producing trees in Nepal are being destroyed.
There are difficulties in developing markets and systems of production, but, with some effort, NTFPs may represent a sustainable utilization of forest resources with minimal environmental impacts. Such resources may form the basis of both small- and large-scale processing industries. The utilization and management of NTFPs should, as far as possible, be delegated to the local population.
Present situation of the resources
Rural people use their spare time to collect NTFPs; therefore, the collection and quantity of NTFPs depends upon time available and not just ecological conditions. The resources are underutilized, overutilized or unutilized according to the prevailing conditions. The resources known to have a high market value are overexploited while those that are less known or whose economic value is unknown are underutilized or unutilized, even though they could provide a good income for the local people. There is no system that provides information about value, collection method, collection time, techniques and market information on these resources. Hence the less known or unknown resources are being destroyed. This is the same with the cultivation of NTFPs. The most exploited NTFPs are recommended for cultivation but information on agrotechnology, markets, harvesting and primary processing of such herbs is not easily available, and thus the collection and production of herbs is also affected. There is an NTFP network but what it is and how it works is unknown to the lay person. There are many regulatory authorities but practically none for promotional activity.
Ban on herbs
In spite of a government ban on the raw export of certain NTFPs, some herbs are regularly collected in large quantities. It is generally considered that the herb business has been monopolized by some wholesalers, but in reality it is the trade of banned items that has been monopolized, not only in the Terai but also from its source of collection. The illegal trade of banned herbs has flourished and people related to it profit while the poor rural collectors earn a pittance. The ban results in losses of government royalties, a spurious supply of raw materials and either smuggling or destruction of resources.
Providing jobs and employment
Despite the considerable value of NTFPs, this aspect of tropical forestry has in fact been underestimated. At present, it is the only source providing income to a vast majority of the population. Synthetic substitutes have ousted many natural products from the markets. But properly utilizing NTFPs in the country could reverse the situation. The variety of NTFPs is so vast that they can generate opportunities for both rural people and industrialists.
• The authorities concerned should implement an information system on different aspects of NTFP utilization.
• Government interference in the transportation, processing and marketing should be minimal.
· Unnecessary taxation by Village Development Committees,the District Development Committee and other organizations should be abolished.
• A legal way to promote the cultivation of NTFPs should be made; the production of NTFPs in farms should be treated as agricultural crops.
• A marketing network to provide market information to traders, producers and collectors should be established.
• Permission for the collection of banned items should be controlled and such items should be collected sustainably by government authorities directly or indirectly.
• Products harvested and used by people in rural areas that are part of their subsistence economy should be identified and promoted.
• Products that yield a return when sold on local, national and international markets should be promoted.
• Potential value in relation to ecotourism and genetic resources should be studied and identified.
Only some NTFPs are directly used as food, but the economic prosperity to the people as a result of proper utilization of NTFPs will be directly used by the majority of people. (Source: Extracted from a contribution by Rabindra N Shukla, Nepal.)
For more information, please contact:
Rabindra N Shukla,
Herbs Production & Processing Co.
Ltd, Salyani Bagia,
Fax: +977 81 22762;
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
An economic analysis of women's dependence on forest resources in the rain forest communities of southeastern Nigeria
The contribution of non-timber forest products (NTFP) to household income, employment and livelihood improvement opportunities of rural women was assessed by the participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and household questionnaire survey techniques. Analysis of field data revealed that rural women derive more income from forest product gathering than from non-forest-related activities, with forest products accounting for 56 percent of total monthly income and non-forest-related activities accounting for 44 percent. A multiple regression analysis of these forest products indicates that Irvingia gabonensis (bush mango), Elaeis guineensis (oil palm), Achantina marginata (snail) and Gnetum africanum (afang) accounted for the highest production of rural women's total monthly income from NTFP sources with values of about N 4 464, N 3 571, N 2 602 and N 2 865, respectively. The implications are that these NTFPs should be exploited on a sustainable basis, otherwise a decline in their stock would greatly affect the socio-economic livelihood of rural women.
It is therefore recommended that sustainable forest management practices should not underestimate NTFP resources as against the present focus on timber resources. More conservation efforts should be focused on the sustainability of the NTFPs that are most significant to rural earnings, if poverty alleviation is to become an integral component of sustainable forest management programmes. (Source: Global Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, 7(2): 345-350 .)
For more information, please contact the authors:
F.E. Bisong and A.O. Ajake,
Department of Geography and Regional Planning,
University of Calabar,
Mazri palm, a unique NWFP of Pakistan
[THREE PHOTOS POSSIBILITY CLAUDIA]
Dwarf palm (Nanorohpes ritchiana), locally called "mazri", is a hardy fibre plant belonging to the wide group of palms. Mazri is usually a stemless, gregarious and low-growing shrub which generally grows in low arid mountainous areas up to 1 524 m. It is the hardiest of all palm species and can tolerate temperatures ranging from -20oC to 50oC. The shrub can produce leaves up to the age of 50 and, under favourable circumstances, develops a trunk reaching approximately 4.3 m in height. It is xerophytic in nature and propagated by means of seeds or rhizomes. The associated flora are Acacia modesta, Monotheca buxifolia and Zizyphus nummularia among the shrubs sacrum, sanatha (Dodonica viscosa) and Rhazia stricta.
Mazri leaves are used to make a variety of products: ropes, mats, hand fans, sandals, baskets, hats, pouches, grooms and other articles of daily use. The dried trunk and foliage are used as fuel.
The Kohat Mazri Act was introduced in 1954 to protect the mazri plantation and to legalize the trade associated with mazri and its products. The act is enforced on all types of land in Kohat and Hangu (communal, private, government) where mazri grows. Permits are issued against production annually. Harvesting is carried out from 15 October to 15 April. The royalties generated from tenders or permits are distributed, with 80 percent going to the community and 20 percent to the forest department as service charges.
According to a survey, 8 to 10 percent of the people in the Kohat forest division are engaged in home-based mazri industries, including traders, producers, retailers and importers.
Women play an active role in mazri, manufacturing finished products. Most of the collection and harvesting is also the task of rural women. Women are involved in supplementing household income for their families, but their direct involvement in income generation can be seen in mazri items. Women belonging to low-income families make ropes, fans, baskets and mats and sell them to the licence holder traders.
Mazri palm is a source of income for many poor families in Kohat but this unique source is dwindling owing to the following reasons:
• Mazri grows on shamilat land. Afghan camps were entrenched on shamilat land and the mazri was totally uprooted to build mud houses. The remainder was also depleted for use as fuel and fodder, a practice that was rarely carried out by the local population.
• Migration from tribal areas and land levelling for agricultural land.
• Poor technology and training for producers, lack of information on marketing, high transportation costs and the low profile of women producers are also problems.
• High importance of the intermediary.
The low importance given to NWFPs at the provincial level is also a reason, since the focus is more on timber, which defuses the importance of conservation through the sustainable production of NWFPs.
The sustainable production of mazri resources is essential for the development of that industry, which must be viewed from the perspective of the future demand for mazri products and possible sources of supply. As the population increases, the demand for mazri can be expected to increase. On the production side, population increase, agricultural land expansion, industrialization and other development activities will lead to a further reduction of forest areas. This probably means a fall in the production of natural forest resources, including mazri. However, if large-scale mazri commercial planting is carried out at the same time, the possibility of a glut on the market cannot be ruled out. (Contributed by: Tanveer Ahmad, Pakistan.)
For more information, please contact:
Forest Management Center,
Palosi Road Peshawar,
Some aspects of the eaglewood trade in Papua New Guinea
The trade in Gyrinops and/or Aquilaria spp. (eaglewood, agarwood, or "gaharu", the Indonesian name) was probably initiated by Asian buyers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Early buyers were Chinese Malaysians and Indonesians based in West Papua.
Two companies in the trade, Eaglewood (PNG) Ltd and A. & F. Forest Products Ltd, have been issued licences by the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority. The annual licence fee is K 1 000 [K 1 = US$0.28, October 2001]. The legal buyers and traders often fly into collection sites in order to buy gaharu directly from local collectors.
Illegal trade (smuggling) in gaharu is estimated to be much larger than the legal trade - probably 90 percent of the trade is illegal. This is because "super-super black" grade is believed to fetch as much as K 3 000/kg in Jayapura, about three times the local buying price.
Traders include West Papuans, resource owners themselves and almost anyone who can grade gaharu very well. Mistakes in grading can prove costly. Today the trade is so profitable that it is possible that corrupt government officials are involved in the illegal trade.
Formation, collection and preparation of eaglewood in Papua New Guinea
Agarwood formation is part of a pathological process in the stem or main branches where an injury has occurred. Fungi are involved in the process, but the process itself is not yet fully understood. Damage by boring insects is often associated with the infection. It is believed that the tree is first attacked and weakened by a pathogenic fungus. Infection by a second fungus causes the formation of agarwood, but it is unclear whether it is a product of the fungus or the tree. The fungi implicated in the formation of agarwood in Aquilaria malaccensis and A. sinensis are Cytosphaera mangiferae and Melanotus flavolives, respectively.
Field collectors locate promising gaharu pockets by looking for holes in a tree where ants or termites can be seen. They also look for oil residues on the scar when branches are removed. The standard procedure then is to cut into the wood at this point with a bush knife and estimate the thickness of the discoloured wood to ascertain if harvesting is practicable. If promising, the overburden wood is stripped away and the gaharu extracted. It is not always necessary to fell the tree, and there are opportunities for the resource to be managed sustainably.
Nevertheless, bush knives and axes are often used to cut down trees in search of gaharu. The heartwood is reasonably soft and white and the brownish to black gaharu product is easily discerned. A tree rich in high-grade gaharu can be smelt from a distance of up to 50 m. Families can be involved in harvesting, but more commonly men do this work. In some areas women are the main collectors if men are otherwise engaged in hunting for food. High-quality gaharu can be obtained from roots as small as 7 to 8 cm in diameter, and roots are sometimes excavated.
Collection is usually hard work. It can take two to three months for one person to collect 1 kg of wood in the Sepik Plains. However, in a "super black" area it can sometimes take as little as one day to collect 0.5 kg.
After harvesting the collector takes the gaharu home and using sharp small knives, pieces of broken glass or special company-issued hooked knives removes unwanted pieces of wood. Resource owners (i.e. villagers) and buyers store the gaharu product in black plastic to avoid loss of the valuable aromatic oil.
Grades of eaglewood
Gaharu is classified in various grading systems that differ according to the product being traded and the country in which the trade is taking place. One international method for grading used in the Papua New Guinea trade is based mainly on colour, in which there are five grades listed in order of priority: 1. Super-super black; 2. super black; 3. A grade; 4. B grade; and 5. C grade. Eaglewood (PNG) Ltd buys on the five-grade international system. Asian field buyers tend to buy on a simplified three-grade system: 1. A grade (super-super black); 2. B grade (super black); and 3. C grade (everything else). Rejected gaharu (also termed D grade) is collected by the tonne and stored before eventual sale as a very low-grade product. There is a tendency for buyers to "reduce" the grade at the buying point and then upgrade the material for later on-sale. This may involve the field buyer having to trim imperfections from the wood before resale in an attempt to improve the quality of the product.
Burning gaharu chips is a sure way to grade gaharu appropriately, but experienced buyers do not need to use this method. Brown chips burn with a strong flame, while black gaharu burns for a shorter time before the flame dies and smoke comes off for a long period. Burning can be used to identify Phaleria spp., as the smoke smells bitter and unpleasant.
Buying from field collectors
In mid-1999, agents generally paid field collectors K 150/kg for super black grade gaharu, K 100/kg for ordinary black and K 20/kg for low grade. From August to October 2000, legal buyers in Papua New Guinea were paying K 500/kg for A grade, K 300/kg for B grade, K 150/kg for C grade and less than K 50/kg for D grade (the reject grade). More recently, A grade may fetch K 1 000 to K 1 200/kg (A. & F. Forest Products). Some licensed buyers are losing their established customers to other buyers who are prepared to pay more for the product.
In the Upper Sepik area local people live at a subsistence level and suffer from a lack of government services and trade stores for purchasing goods. Here local people have bartered gaharu for goods such as clothes, radios, soap, salt and batteries for torches used in hunting.
All buyers are aware of adulterated gaharu, which is a tactic used by collectors to increase either weight or colour. For example, some collectors may soak gaharu in black oil or water, or put samples in mud. Collectors may mix Phaleria chips with gaharu to confuse buyers when sorting many chips.
Issues in conservation and sustainability
The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority, through the Forest Research Institute, and CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products are working together to conserve and domesticate Papua New Guinea's indigenous forest species. Part of this project involves the development of a conservation and management strategy for eaglewood in the country. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) will be undertaken with individuals and specific village communities in areas where eaglewood occurs naturally. The PRA will assist in ascertaining local views on the biology of eaglewood, folk varieties, usefulness and possible means of management and conservation. Land tenure issues impacting on germplasm conservation and community-level plantation development will be investigated. This survey will build on the work already undertaken by TRAFFIC Oceania and the South Pacific Program, and further collaborative research on and development of eaglewood will be undertaken.
There remain substantial gaps in the available information on eaglewood, both in Papua New Guinea and internationally. In Papua New Guinea, some of the key issues that must be addressed are listed below.
Taxonomy and inventories
• Reappraisal of the taxonomy of the various genera and
species traded under the common name of eaglewood.
• Inventories to ascertain the location, area, status and condition of native stands.
• Customary ownership of stands and individual trees.
Conservation and management
• An awareness campaign on "best practice" for the sustainable utilization and management of eaglewood.
• The possible rates of destruction of trees.
• Whether the species is rare, endangered or common.
• Prospects for domestication.
• Prospects for the management of natural stands for the conservation of biodiversity.
• Prospects for the management of natural stands for sustainable production.
• Mechanisms for listing the range of eaglewood genera and species under CITES.
Propagation and plantation management
• Seed collection, treatment and storage.
• Nursery practices.
• Establishment and management of plantations for sustainable production.
Production and economics of eaglewood
• Methods to determine quantities and qualities of
agarwood in the standing tree.
• Techniques for artificial stimulation of eaglewood oil production.
• Standardized techniques for grading gaharu to assist villagers and the trade involved in marketing.
• Business plans to enable villagers to trade effectively within the industry.
• Methods for inducing the production of high-quality grades in natural and planted trees.
• Effective, efficient and less destructive collection methods.
• Trends in short-term prices.
• Possible impacts of greater supplies from plantations on long-term prices.
(Source: Extracted from Some aspects of the eaglewood trade in Papua New Guinea, by
M. Singadan, W. Yelu, J. Beko, D. Bosimbi and D.J. Boland. )
For more information, please contact:
Forest Research Institute,
Lae, Papua New Guinea;
CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products,
PO Box E4008, Kingston 2604, ACT,
Sustainable management of Papua New Guinea's agarwood resource
Over the past five years, Papua New Guinea's lowland forests have been the setting for a new "gold rush" as local communities have begun searching for an aromatic wood previously unknown in the country. Already heavily exploited in the rest of the world and with eight species already considered threatened, a report by TRAFFIC Oceania and WWF South Pacific is urging for action to be taken now in what could be the world's last frontier for substantial wild stocks of agarwood.
Agarwood (also known as aloeswood, eaglewood or gaharu) has been traded since biblical times for cultural, medicinal and aromatic purposes. Agarwood-producing species are found from India eastwards to the island of New Guinea, including all Southeast Asian countries and north to Hainan Island in southern China. In Papua New Guinea, which is the known eastern extreme of the agarwood-producing species' range, the high local prices for top-grade agarwood suggest that, if managed correctly, it could provide local communities with a viable eco-enterprise option to replace the promised benefits of industrial logging agreements.
With this potential in mind, TRAFFIC Oceania and WWF South Pacific Programme initiated research into this burgeoning harvest and trade earlier this year. Unexploited stands of agarwood still exist in Papua New Guinea. In areas where harvesting has begun, villages are still learning how to extract gaharu and manage the trees. Papua New Guinea therefore provides a unique opportunity to promote the establishment of a sustainable gaharu industry.
Ayurvedic, Tibetan and East Asian pharmacop_ias value agarwood for its ability to treat a range of disorders including pleurisy, asthma, rheumatism and jaundice. Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus use agarwood incense in religious ceremonies and as a customary perfume. Agarwood essences are used to fragrance soaps and shampoos and the popularity of highly priced essential oils reinforces the value of agarwood derivatives.
Agarwood is found naturally in only a small percentage of trees in the Thymeleaceae family - with the highest-grade "product" usually harvested from certain species in the genus Aquilaria. However, the TRAFFIC/WWF study identified a related species, Gyrinops ledermannii as producing this fragrant heartwood for the first time. Like other agarwood species, only about 10 percent of mature G. ledermannii trees are likely to produce the fragrant resin that leads to agarwood formation in the heartwood. External signs of agarwood are not obvious, which often leads to indiscriminate felling of trees in the search for darker wood inside.
The high value of agarwood is stimulating overharvesting and illegal trade in many other parts of the world. Populations of eight species of Aquilaria are already considered threatened, of which six are threatened by overexploitation.
Further research is planned for both Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya (also known as West Papua) in Indonesia to understand better the diversity of agarwood-producing species, the harvest and trade dynamics, and to develop a strategy that balances conservation management with the potential to generate long-term income.
TRAFFIC and WWF have been discussing the ramifications of this trade with the Inter-Agency Committee comprising Papua New Guinea's National Forestry Service, Forest Research Institute, Office of Environment and Conservation and Internal Revenue Commission. Discussions so far have focused on policy interventions that will promote best-practice management of harvest and trade. On the Indonesian side of the border, TRAFFIC has begun analysing the current trade dynamics in Irian Jaya in collaboration with WWF-Indonesia's Sahul programme. (Source: Extracted from The final frontier: towards sustainable management of Papua New Guinea's agarwood resource, by Frank Zich and James Compton, a report of TRAFFIC Oceania in conjunction with WWF's South Pacific Programme.)
For more information, please contact:
PO Box 528,
Sydney, NSW 2001,
Fax: +61 2 92121794;
[Please see under Products and Markets for more information on agarwood.]
Russian berries to quench EU thirst
The next time you're stuck in a supermarket in Western Europe thirsting for some mors, don't panic: Russia's ill-defined national berry drink could be right in front of you. That is because Chudo-Yagoda, or Wonder Berry, has become the first Russian product to be given the green light by the British Retailer Consortium (BRC).
Nearly every major food retailer worldwide requires an independent certificate of quality before it will use own-label suppliers, and the so-called "technical standard" certificate of the BRC, which represents 90 percent of all British retailers, is one of the most prestigious, industry players say.
The maker of Wonder Berry, juice and dairy giant Wimm-Bill-Dann, calls getting BRC approval for one of its products - which entails a thorough inspection of production facilities and technologies - a major development in its quest to expand its exporting operations around the world. Wimm-Bill-Dann already sells small amounts of Wonder Berry in speciality stores in several countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Mongolia and Canada. But the new certificate will be a big bargaining chip in its current negotiations with the United Kingdom, France, Australia and the Scandinavian countries, said WBD spokesperson Yulia Belova.
Belova said that the reason her company chose mors - a sort of berry compote without the chunks - to be its first internationally certified product was simply because of its uniqueness. "After extensive marketing research we decided that mors would be the first WBD product on the international market because it has no analogue."
Wonder Berry is produced from berries collected in the Russia forests, not cultivated. A similar product is also produced in Ireland, but it is not exported. (Source: Extracted from the Moscow Times, 6 June 2001, reported in Taiga ntfp listserve.)
Boswellia from Somalia, a source of high-quality frankincense
Frankincense is the oleo-gum-resin harvested from several different trees belonging to the genus Boswellia. The resin is formed in cavities within the tree bark and is released when the bark tissue is damaged. This is part of the plant's natural defence mechanism. By "tapping" the tree deliberately, people have been harvesting this resin for many centuries. There is a distinct lack of knowledge about the species in regard to their botany, taxonomy and distribution, although clarification has been attempted several times in the past. There is much variation in the species in regard to leaf shape, inflorescence and fruits, number of branches, and size and shape of the trunk. The trunks have distinct swollen bases which, it must be assumed, help in the uptake and storage of water and minerals. All these adaptations allow the trees to cope with the extreme environmental conditions under which they grow.
Two species important for their essential oils are found growing in Somalia, Boswellia sacra (syn. B. carteri) and Boswellia frereana. The territories where these trees grow are divided up into xiji (a Somalian term indicating an area of land controlled by one specific family for the purpose of harvesting the resin). Traditionally, these areas belong to one family group, and are handed down through the generations.
Boswellia sacra is found in northern Somalia, Ethiopia, southern Yemen and Oman. It grows on hills, gullies and cliffs up to an altitude of 1 230 m and for 200 km inland from the coast. As the trees are more abundant in the harsher, steeper, less accessible regions, they have not been exploited as much as those of B. frereana which grow in more accessible places. The harvest season lasts for eight months, from March to October. A tapping is made every 15 to 20 days in a cyclical harvest, which enables about ten harvests per season. This type of resin does not tend to run down the bark, and upon ripening it becomes a transparent yellow colour. Collected resin can be either deep yellow, reddish or pale white and translucent in colour, and is known locally as beeyo. It is used mainly as religious incense as well as in the European flavour and fragrance industry.
Boswellia frereana is native to northern Somalia. It is found only in coastal sites, often on steep vertical slopes to a height of 750 m above sea level. This species prefers a hotter, more humid climate and requires good supplies of water. The harvest season starts in late August with a tapping made about every 25 to 35 days. This longer time lapse between tappings is due to the lower temperatures increasing the time it takes for the resin to mature.
The resin runs down the bark to form long valuable "tears", which are harvested annually at the end of the season. This resin is of superior quality owing to its lemon scent, sweet taste and pale topaz-yellow colour and is known locally as meydi. It is used widely as a type of chewing gum as it is considerably less bitter than B. sacra. On the open market it commands twice the price of beeyo. It is possible to find the two species growing together in areas where the upper growth limits of B. frereana cross the lower growth limits of B. sacra. The trees are not harvested until they are five to seven years old when they will be 4 to 5 m high with 15 cm diameter trunks. Traditional tapping methods are still used today, but there is now potential for increased yield by improvement of these methods, or even the introduction of chemical flow enhancers, similar to those used in rubber production. Harvesting is extremely difficult because of the dangerous and not easily accessible terrain. Tough physical demands are made on the harvesters, who work in high temperatures in regions with poor road systems. The resin is taken back to the village, where women work long hours sorting the resin according to colour, size and shape. B. sacra (beeyo) is graded by colour into red, white or mixed. B. frereana (meydi) is graded according to colour and also the size of the "tears".
Frankincense resin is a natural renewable resource that provides a living for a great number of Somalis. Somalia is the only country identified as having B. frereana growing naturally that produces the precious meydi resin. At present, an Irish development organization, Progressive Interventions, is working in Somalia with the remit of looking at ways to increase the income of local collectors.
The resins from several species of Boswellia are traded as frankincense with sources from many countries within the African continent as well as the Near East and South Asia. Industrial distilleries will buy resin from a mixture of species and grades. If their sorting systems are not strictly quality controlled, the distillation of mixed batches of resin will occur. Moreover, differences in distillation methods can produce oils of different qualities. They can be deterpenized by redistillation and also adulterated. This all adds to the general confusion in what is sold as frankincense oil in the general market place.
In the Plant Biology Department at the Scottish Agricultural College, research was carried out involving the distilling of authentic resin samples from Somalia, and assessing oil yield and quality by GC analyses.
It must be remembered that the resin is a naturally produced plant material, growing under uncontrolled conditions, and as such will exhibit much variation. It may be that an inexperienced trader would find it extremely difficult to differentiate between the different sources and species. This variation was also apparent in the chemical composition of the distilled oil. (Source: Medicinal Plant Conservation, vol. 7, 1 August 2001.)
For more information, please contact the authors:
Katerina P. Svoboda,
Janice Hampson or Lorna Hill,
Aromatic and Medicinal Plant Group,
Scottish Agricultural College (SAC),
Ayr KA6 5HW,
Fax: +44 1292 525314;
e-mail: email@example.com ; or
Almost every city and town in South Africa has some form of trade in plants for medicinal or cultural purposes, most often through informal street markets or small shops known as Amayeza stores (amayeza is the Xhosa word for medicine) or as Muthi shops in KwaZulu-Natal.
A survey carried out in 2000 of the trade of medicinal plants in the six largest urban centres of Eastern Cape Province has revealed some startling results. Based on 282 informants' lists of their ten most frequently traded species, no fewer than 166 plant species were recorded as regularly harvested from wild populations and sold for medicinal and cultural purposes. It is estimated that 435 tonnes of wild-harvested plant material is traded in the six city centres in Eastern Cape Province alone every year, generating an income of US$2.43 million per annum. As lucrative as this may sound, it is shared among so many traders that the average monthly income per capita is between approximately US$19 and $64.
Medicinal plants are harvested regularly, with little or no control or management in communal areas and State-owned land in Eastern Cape Province. No plants are cultivated and all material is wild-harvested. Current legislation (National Forests Act 1998) allows for the harvesting of plant material for subsistence use only and this is restricted to what the harvester can carry without containers. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) has adopted a policy of sustainable harvesting by means of community-based management programmes. The "new" (post 1994) conservation legislation is excellent and allows for both community access as well as strict law enforcement where necessary. Unfortunately, there are as yet no management structures in place and the present harvesting rates are uncontrolled and far from sustainable. Provincial conservation authorities and DWAF are critically understaffed and lack the capacity to manage previously restricted areas, much less communal land. (Source: The trade in medicinal plants in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa in TRAFFIC Bulletin, 19(1) .)
For more information, please contact the authors:
Selmar Schonland Herbarium,
Rhodes University Botany Department,
PO Box 101,
Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER),
PO Box 94,
Sustaining Natural Resources in African Environments (SUNRAE)
SUNRAE is an acronym that aptly describes the focus of this research programme: Sustaining Natural Resources in African Environments. The programme is an initiative of the Centre for African Ecology of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
SUNRAE is permanently based at the Wits Rural Facility, a university research facility in the central lowveld of Northern Province, near Kruger National Park. This region of South Africa is characterized by dense rural populations of the former black homelands created during South Africa's apartheid past, juxtaposed with ostensibly élitist private game reserves and State conservation areas, all within a semi-arid savannah environment.
The rural populations depend heavily on communal lands for indigenous natural resources, such as fruits, edible herbs, plant parts for medicines, animals for meat, wood for fuel, and timber for construction. Recent research conducted by SUNRAE has shown that these communities still place considerable value on cultural, social and environmental services provided by biodiversity in areas. Many communities face an acute shortage of some of these resources, and the links between poverty and environmental decline are readily apparent.
Against this backdrop, the objectives of SUNRAE are to:
• conduct applied research around the issues of sustainable utilization and management of indigenous resources in semi-arid communal woodlands;
• develop human resources capable of understanding and addressing the issues of rural development and resource conservation across the human-environment interface;
• synthesize and disseminate such information and knowledge to rural communities, decision-makers, landowners and policy-makers.
Since 1992, more than 90 journal articles, reports, proceedings and theses have been compiled by SUNRAE. This work has shed new light on many aspects of the ecology and management of communal lands. It has also raised awareness of key issues on the sustainable management of natural resources in communal lands in the semi-arid savannahs of South Africa.
SUNRAE is also a partner in community development and conservation projects such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Makuleke Training programme, and the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Wayne Twine,
Wits Rural Facility,
Private Bag X420,
Fax: +27 15 7933992;
Alternatives to national parks
Alternatives to national parks should be considered in order to conserve both forests and people's livelihoods, academics say. Thirty-six NGOs at a recent seminar to review the Forestry Department's 40-year management of national parks agreed the parks had hurt the lives of people living in and around forests. Academics at the meeting said an appropriate model for forest conservation should allow for both public use and forest protection.
Somsak Sukwong, of the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre (RECOFTC) for Asia and the Pacific, argued that the poor in the countryside needed to live on resources from the forests, while Somkiat Pongpaiboon, of the Rajabhat Institute at Nakhon Ratchasima, said that national park management had ignored the fact that Thailand was an agricultural country. "Conservation per se, where the state removes the people and takes charge over their land, should be ended,'' Mr Somkiat added.
Suraphol Duangkhae, of Wildlife Fund Thailand, said the Forestry Department should retain management of national parks. Areas outside national parks should be cared for by the public to complement the department's work. He said that it was important to bear in mind that it will not be easy to keep moving people out of their land and that an alliance of people and the department will be the key to better conservation.
IUCN-World Conservation Union representative, Piyathip Eaowpanich, considered that Thailand's management of its forests was at the stricter end of conservation and that a combination of different kinds of protected areas other than national parks would allow people to make use of forests.
The academics agreed that the proposed Community Forest Act, which is being revised by the Senate, would be one of the keys to better management. (Source: Bangkok Post, 6 January 2002, in RECOFTC e-letter 2002.2.)
Chestnuts in Turkey: brief introductory paper about chestnut in Turkey especially as a non-wood forest product
The chestnut is probably the most important nut crop found throughout Turkey's forests. It has been cultivated and consumed for several centuries. Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) is the only native species of the genus in Turkey and its centre of origin is believed to be eastern Turkey or Caucasus.
In Turkey, chestnut covers 29 892 ha and, according to the Forest Code, is considered to be a forest tree and is mainly found in forests. According to Forest Management Plan statistics, 87 percent of chestnuts are high forest; the rest are coppice forest. The growing stock is 6 660 722 m3 in high forest and 2 114 846 steres in coppices. Trees outside the forest are negligible.
In general, chestnut is used for its nut. But, in addition to this, its hardwood timber is used for construction materials and its flowers for apiculture - some counties are famous for their chestnut honey.
The ten main counties in which the chestnut is found are in the Black Sea region, with the exception of Izmir. But the nuts are generally produced in the Marmara and Aegean regions. It is possible to say, therefore, that the chestnuts found in the Black Sea region are natural.
According to the statistics for the last 20 years, Turkey's annual crop yield has grown to 68 625 tonnes, an increase of 28 kg of nuts per tree.
Turkey exports more than a tenth of the total amount of chestnut nuts to more than 55 countries, the main customers being Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan (from the Near East), and Italy, Greece, Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria and France (from Europe). For the ten years from 1990 to 1999, in exchange for the 62.641 tonnes of chestnuts exported, Turkey earned US$67 million, which means that Turkey's annual export is 6 000 tonnes worth US$6.7 million. The price of exported nuts is approximately US$1 per kilogram without processing.
According to official figures collected from Ankara, internal chestnut consumption is estimated to be 47 387 tonnes annually. The nut is consumed in Turkey in the different ways shown in the table below:
Raw product (sold in markets)
Roasted (sold on streets by street sellers)
Total Income from chestnuts
The total annual income from chestnuts, including export, internal consumption and unrecorded consumption, can be calculated as follows:
Export. US$6 679 623 equivalent to 6 264 tonnes (average price of the last ten years).
Internal consumption. US$94 774 000 equivalent to 47 387 tonnes product (the average price of the nut has been accepted at a retail price of US$2/kg).
Unrecorded internal consumption. The export and official internal consumption amount to 53 651 tonnes, but nut production is 68 652 tonnes annually. Therefore, the difference between the two figures is unrecorded consumption. If we assume that these products were consumed at a minimum US$1/kg, US$14 973 000 equivalent to 14.973 tonnes have been earned.
As a consequence, the total income of chestnut nuts can be calculated:
Export US$6 679 623
Internal consumption US$94 774 000
Unrecorded internal consumption US$14 973 000
Total US$116 426 623
For more information, please contact:
General Directorate of Forestry,
OGM APK Daire Baskanligi 1 Nolu Bina,
Fax: +90 312 2227336;
Uganda Forestry Association
The overall objective of the Uganda Forestry Association (UFA) is "to ensure a sustainable forestry sector that is accorded its rightful role in contributing to the socio-economic development through production of indispensable goods and services". This will be achieved through the following specific objectives:
• to create and maintain proper public understanding of the value and the vital role forests play in our daily lives;
• to serve as an advocacy channel for forestry issues and create a forum for exchange of ideas among foresters and other interested parties throughout Uganda;
• to promote the effective protection, production and utilization of Uganda's forest resources and in accordance with relevant international conventions/agreements;
• to work as far as possible for the standardization of information collection, storage, retrieval, dissemination and utilization system for the forestry sector.
In order to achieve these objectives, UFA has developed a three-year, five-component project proposal "Improving the value of forests and trees In Uganda" to carry out the following activities, including non-wood forest products:
• information and database establishment and dissemination including advocacy;
• research and training;
• promoting quality products;
• promoting tree growing in Uganda;
• providing consultancy services.
UFA would like to collaborate with other international agencies wishing to work in the developing world.
For more information, please contact:
Uganda Forestry Association,
PO Box 27667,
Tel./fax: +256 41 340442;
e-mail c/o: firstname.lastname@example.org
For an electronic version of Branching Out, the Forest Sector Newsletter of Uganda, please contact:
Gaster Kawuubye Kiyingi,
Uganda Forest Sector Coordination Secretariat,
Ministry of Water,
Lands and Environment,
PO Box 27314,
Fax: +256 (0)41 340683;
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has recently published the United Kingdom's Forest Footprint. The United Kingdom is the world's second largest importer of forest products, importing 85 percent of its needs. The Minister for the Environment has pledged to reform the government procurement of forest products to source more Forest Stewardship Council-certified products and to promote responsible forestry on the estimated 6.4 million hectares of overseas forests needed to supply the United Kingdom market. (Source: Taiga News, Winter 2001.)
Forests and woodlands cover over a third of the total land area of the United Republic of Tanzania, and are the main source of fuel, timber, fruits and other foods for many rural communities. More than 50 indigenous wild fruits grow in the miombo woodlands alone, which dominate the west and south of the country. They offer valuable nutrients to rural families, but less than half the fruit is collected, leaving the rest to rot in the forest or be eaten by monkeys.
The International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) is working with local women's groups and the Tanzanian Women Leaders in Agriculture and Environment (TAWLAE) to increase awareness of the high nutritional value of these indigenous fruits, and enable the women to maximize their potential for income generation through the manufacture and sale of jam, wine and juice. (Source: Global Newsletter on Underutilized Crops, June 2001.)
Social Forestry Development Project (SFDP) Song Da
The SFDP Song Da project is being financed by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ. The project, which started in 1993 and has a total implementation period of 12 years, was initiated as a watershed protection measure in the Song Da watershed. The project goal is that "the living conditions of the local population in the Song Da region are improved in accord with a stabilization of the ecology". The project purpose is that "(rural) communities in Son La and Lai Chau provinces manage their natural resources in an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable way". The target groups are the local populations in the two provinces, which comprise a large percentage of ethnic minorities (mainly Thai and H'mong).
The project is working in five areas: a) participatory land use planning and land allocation; b) methodology for participatory village development planning; c) improved technical and organizational options; d) technical procedures for natural forest regeneration; and e) establishment of a needs-oriented extension concept.
For more information, please contact:
Ms Huong Lien,
SFDP PR Coordinator,
GPO Box 407,
Hanoi, Viet Nam.
Fax: +84 4 214765;
Social benefits of natural woodlands and eucalyptus woodlots in Mukarakate, northeastern Zimbabwe
The social benefits of indigenous miombo woodland resources and exotic Eucalyptus camaldulensis woodlots were investigated in Mukarakate, northeastern Zimbabwe. The availability of woodland resources and the importance of those resources to different social classes and genders were studied by using participatory rural appraisal methods. Semi-structured interviews were used to clarify the benefits from natural woodlands and exotic plantations, as well as any management problems for eucalyptus woodlots owned by private individuals, educational institutions and woodlot cooperatives. Interviews of eucalyptus woodlot owners in two typical villages were conducted between January 1998 and November 1999.
The availability of most woodland resources had decreased very rapidly between 1980 and 1998 and are likely to continue decreasing in the future. This has caused problems especially for the poor and women because they were the primary users of many of the non-wood forest products (NWFP) from the miombo woodlands, and these products were getting more and more difficult to find in the area. People from all social classes had established eucalyptus woodlots in the 1980s, but these woodlots were not able to provide substitutes for many of the NWFPs that had come from miombo woodlands. (Source: Forests, Trees and Livelihoods, 11(1): 29-45 .)
For more information, please contact the author:
T.M. Tyynela, Faculty of Forestry, University of Joensuu, PO Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland.
[Please see under Products and Markets - Mushrooms - for more information on Zimbabwe.]
Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources
Through their keen and active Zimbabwean fieldworkers and awareness of local resource needs, the Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources (SAFIRE) has established field projects which deal with people-plant interactions away from the Zambezi valley geographic focus of the better known and longer established CAMPFIRE programme. Examples are its research on ilala (Hypahaene coriacea) palm harvesters, baobab fibre, oil and nutriceuticals, the role of the musau tree (Ziziphus mauritiana) in household economies, traditional uses of, and economic opportunities from, makoni herbal tea (Fadogia ancylantha), and work with communities in the Chipinge area on re-establishment and agroforestry production of the medicinal tree muranga (Warburgia salutaris). With support from the People and Plants Initiative, SAFIRE is the national contact point for the Zimbabwe Ethnobotany Network (ZEN), which links into the African Ethnobotany Network of the Association for the Study of the Flora of Tropical Africa (AETFAT).
SAFIRE was established in 1994 through the collaboration of several local and international NGOs. SAFIRE's mission is to facilitate the development and application of innovative approaches to diversify and improve rural livelihoods, based on the utilization, commercialization and sustainable management of natural resources. As a "plants" counterpoint to the CAMPFIRE programme, which focuses primarily on large mammals, SAFIRE draws attention to the value of woodlands to local people. Its main goals are to promote the establishment of natural resource-based enterprises, and to support the development of land use alternatives derived from these enterprises.
SAFIRE's Managing our Indigenous Tree Inheritance programme focuses on the economic development of communal areas based on sustainable and productive use of natural resources, especially from woodlands. There are four broad areas of focus: a) enterprise promotion and development; b) natural resource management at the community level; c) institutional development among traditional leadership and modern local governance structures; and d) natural resource policy development at the local and national levels. The programme is known by the acronym MITI, meaning "trees" in the local Shona language.
Since its initiation in 1997, MITI has sought to develop a range of natural plant products, identify and explore market opportunities for those products, build production and processing capacity within local communities, and develop alternative methodologies for assessing the volume and sustainable offtake levels of the plant resources that form the basis for these products.
The MITI project works with communities in five districts in eastern Zimbabwe. To date, it has identified more than 40 different enterprise opportunities based on natural products, and has facilitated the development of enterprises benefiting more than 10 000 people. At present, the project is moving towards a second phase, in which it will focus on a narrower range of products, while hoping to develop them all the way to export quality and production.
SAFIRE hosts several national and regional initiatives aimed at promoting natural product development and marketing. These include the Miombo Forum, which supports alternative trade and ecolabelling for products derived from miombo woodlands in five countries in southern and eastern Africa; and the Southern African Natural Products Trade Association (SANProTA), which facilitates product and market research and development for forest or veld products from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
(Source: People and Plants Handbook, issue 6, May 2001.)
For more information, please contact:
Mr Gus Le Breton, Director,
Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources,
PO Box BE 398, Belvedere, Harare,
Fax: +263 4 790470;
One of the projects that SAFIRE has been working on with support from the People and Plants Initiative is the reintroduction of a medicinal tree species, Warburgia salutaris, locally known as muranga, which is the most important traditional medicine in Zimbabwe. An economic analysis from this pilot project of Warburgia reintroduction, as well as of market price data from a survey of local herbal medicine markets, strongly suggests that the reintroduction of Warburgia salutaris in southeastern Zimbabwe has great potential to enhance conservation of an endangered species and, simultaneously, improve the livelihoods of local rural people.
T.E. Veeman et al. (in press). Muranga returns: the economics of production of a rare medicinal plant species re-introduced in southeastern Zimbabwe. Advances in Economics Botany.