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Messrs. Delali B.K. DOVIE1, Charlie M. SHACKLETON2, Ed T.F. WITKOWSKI3
1,3Department of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences
University of the Witwatersrand, JOHANNESBURG
2Environmental Science Programme, Rhodes University, GRAHAMSTOWN
South Africa


Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) are important though an underestimated part of the economy of many countries, and also an effective incentive to conserve forests, woodlands and other ecosystems. The use of NWFP by rural people in making a living has developed to involve assets, income generating activities and entitlements, contributing to their total livelihoods. Hence the need to meaningfully and genuinely integrate them into any activities involving the management of NWFP. To sustainably manage the ecosystems that support these NWFP and to reduce the vulnerability of those people entirely dependent on these, there is the need to evaluate losses in harvesting these resources against the potential benefits accruing from them. Moreover, the need to demonstrate their availability in promoting sustainable harvesting is paramount, and underscored by stock taking through inventories.

This presentation is not meant to provide an in-depth analysis of various inventory techniques but to re-visit some of them, which are inevitable where human consumption of biological resources matters. The most fundamental pieces of information that may be required for a sustained management of NWFP are the estimates of the distribution, abundance and the rate of regeneration of the resource base or the species involved. A knowledge of these estimates in no doubt, form the baseline for studying the population dynamics of the different species, subsequently providing adequate information for assessing and monitoring the impacts of harvesting.

To be able to come up with a sustainable management strategy for the harvesting of NWFP, it is suggested that inventory studies are designed to encapsulate the question of how much of the products are being harvested to sustain the resource base in face of continuous harvesting. It is therefore significantly appropriate to recognize regeneration surveys and harvesting assessments as part of inventories rather than treating them as separate ingredients of promoting sustainability. As part of inventory, various mapping techniques ranging from physical landscape features, ecological and political boundaries as points of references to more sophisticated methods have been used. The sophisticated ones include aerial photographs, GIS and remote sensing, and geographical co-ordinates specifically Global Positioning Systems are being used to map distribution and other features of forest products.

This paper looks beyond the traditional methods of inventory taking which are themselves neither adequate nor participatory and used only by “outside researchers”, and reviewing the involvement of local resource dependents at all levels, and recognizing indigenous knowledge using a case study from sub-Saharan Africa. This is more crucial for sustainable management of NWFP outside protected areas, and also for the perpetuation of most species in protected areas especially when their life cycle characteristics are linked to species outside the protected area. The rationale for this presentation is therefore to review and propose various Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods for inventorying NWFP. The emphasis will be on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Hierarchical Valuation Scheme (VHS) techniques, and how they complement ecological and other techniques.


Conventionally, inventory has been used in the study of forest products to take records and produce catalogues of density and size-class structure data of species under investigation. This is a term commonly used by Foresters and Ecologists. Nevertheless, this description of an inventory provides the fundamental information required for management strategies. However, if one is working towards sustainability in cases of utilization, an inventory should further examine species density and size-class structure in addition to harvest and yield related surveys as well as regeneration data.

Inventory of NWFP should therefore be seen as a complex process beyond just scientific or ecological understanding if one acknowledges that these products have been shaped by human activities directly or indirectly for many centuries. From the ecological point of view, one will be more interested in looking at the distribution of the population of species involved with respect to size-class, structure or growth stages (difficult to define). Other factors include populations prone to harvesting and parts harvested; life cycle characteristics and type(s) of usable parts produced; the rate of production (regeneration) and quantitative measures of usable part(s). In addition are species richness, composition, abundance and density.

However, an approach to holistic inventory promises to evaluate socio-cultural and economic dimensions of the resources in context. These are captured by the history of exploitation, addressing issues such as status of collecting and harvesting locations; time and seasonality of exploitation; stakeholders involved in the harvesting; and the impacts of the degree of exploitation. Adding to these are information about previous inventories and other environmental activities in the area; local identification and values of products; specific types of resources used; and efforts to perpetuate the resource (planted, domesticated or selected). Inventory of existing and future demand for products, operational information as well as tenure and institutional matters are worth knowing. With these topical issues, local or indigenous people's involvement is crucial, further easing problems that might be associated with mapping and border demarcation exercises. This involvement can be achieved through Participatory Action Research (PAR); Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) or paraprofessional training, or a combination of these whichever is appropriate.

Harvesting NWFP and Livelihoods

Non-Wood Forest Products are important and are a significant part of the economy of many countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa, providing an effective incentive to conserve ecosystems through involvement of local people in conservation outside of Protected Areas. Though underestimated in national economies and resource accounting, it is an acknowledged fact that rural people have relied on NWFP for centuries yet we know little about the extent of use, availability and sustainability of the products (Godoy & Bawa, 1993; Hammett & Chamberlain, 1998).

For many decades, the utilization of NWFP has only been associated with the “poor”, undermining investigations to assess and protect these resources. Though botanical, zoological and anthropological studies have touched on people's use of NWFP for many years, the issues of sustainable harvesting and implications for management and livelihoods have emerged only in recent times. Many studies and investigations have demonstrated that these resources are important over a wide range of systems, and they have been incorporated into the livelihood strategies of most rural people (Scoones et al., 1992; Chihongo, 1994; Emerton, 1996; Statz, 1997; Campbell et al., 1997; Cunningham, 1997; Shackleton, et al., 1999).

Among the many forest products utilized, the most common uses are for food, fodder, and medicine. Other uses include, household baskets, sleeping mats, pillows, sponges and brooms (Falconer, 1992; Arnold, 1995). Food from forests and woodlands includes fruits, leaves, seeds and nuts, tubers and roots, fungi, gum and sap. Bee-keeping for honey is often a forest-based activity and wildlife is an important source of food (Falconer, 1990). In parts of Africa, “bushmeat” referring to meat from smaller animals and invertebrates are more important food sources than larger game because they are readily available, providing a major source of protein to people's diets (FAO, 1995). Food from NWFP often provides essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins, further serving as sources for variety and taste.

The State and Knowledge of NWFP

Locally or regionally consumed secondary forest products and NWFP account for the great majority of forest species collected and used, and a very significant percentage of the potential and actual value of forests (Padoch, 1992; Godoy & Bawa, 1993). In the last decade resource valuation studies have been superimposed on inventories for understanding the context of resource use and livelihoods (Campbell, 1987; Peters et al, 1989; Chopra, 1993; Phillips & Gentry, 1993; Chihongo, 1994; Shackleton, 1996; Campbell et al., 1997).

Major initiatives are underway locally, regionally and internationally to develop appropriate strategies for a balance between various land and resource uses. Though a sensible approach, it must be recognized that sound management depends on reliable information, and that not enough is known about either the current state of NWFP in many countries, or how the situation has changed over time. Without more and better information, it is far from certain that any strategies designed to improve matters will succeed hence the need for an inventory beyond the traditional methods in science.

It has been argued that if commercial cattle farms, state and private conservation areas and unplanted areas under the control of plantation forestry companies in South Africa were to encourage sustainable harvesting of resources (mostly NWFP) from their lands, it could have positive benefits. These benefits could be in terms of reducing pressure on the resource base within communal lands, promoting jobs and economic activity (Shackleton, 1996). Locally in South Africa, values of NWFP compare favourably to returns from other land uses in the immediate vicinity, hence Shackleton (1996) made a case for the broad-scale harvesting and commercialization of these resources in such areas. He argued for this as a vehicle towards meaningful development, rather than to simply support a subsistence livelihood, through increased income generating opportunities or employment that would result in increased cash flows within the local communities. This has also been argued for in other areas (e.g. FAO, 1996; Leaky & Simons, 1998).

Linked to this has been an on-going debate on different ways to attain a balance between conservation, socio-economic development and political rights. A market approach maintains that improving prices to producers, adding value locally, and organizing people to achieve these aims can lead to the goals of long-term economic and political rights (Leslie, 1987; Nepstad, 1992; Stiles, 1994; Perez & Byron, 1999). It has been further established that lack of regulation regarding the harvesting of non-timber forest products could negatively impact on the industry, leading to over-harvesting, degradation of the resources, and increased tension among stakeholders (Chamberlain et al., 1998).

The Paradigm of Local Participation

The origin and practice of Participatory Learning & Action

The use of Participatory Learning & Action (PLA) processes embraces several techniques used mostly in the social sciences to involve local people in formal research and development projects. One of these is PRA with methods evolving from Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA). The difference is that PRA emphasizes processes that empower local people, providing a window into the relationship between them and their environment. RRA is mainly seen as a means for outsiders to gather information quickly and the information provided is restricted to the researcher (FAO, 1990; Chambers, 1992, 1997; Pretty et al., 1995; IDS, 1996).

Understanding PRA

The development paradigms of the 1960s and 1970s, derived from the legacy and dictatorship of colonial rule, involved the conception of a top down approach. There was little involvement of those for whom the development was intended. The failure of stakeholder involvement in forest management has undermined sustainable utilization and aggravated poverty in the developing world. Participatory development and associated strategies arose as a reaction to this realization of failure and disappointment, and was made popular by Park (1989) and Chambers (1992).

In the past decade, several research and development methodologies have evolved for assessing rural community needs quickly and with their participation as a result of criticism of survey methods which tend to isolate beneficiaries and resource dependents from the process. These include Diagnosis and Design, Participant Observer, PAR, Participatory Technology Development, Rapid Rural Appraisal and PRA, together now regularly referred to as Participatory Learning and Action (FAO 1990; 1994; Whyte, 1991; Chambers, 1992, 1997; Pretty et al., 1995; Brace, 1995; Wetmore & Theron, 1998; Guijt & van Veldhuizen, 1998). Ford et al. (1992) noted that it is important to assume the following when carrying out a PRA exercise:

Techniques and Practice of PRA

There are several techniques used in the implementation of PRA, some of which are Time Lines; Mapping (Resource, Tenure & Control); Product or Resource Flow Diagrams; Skits & Role Plays; Transect or Systematic Walk; and Seasonal Calendars. There are others such as Linkage Diagrams; Pairwise and Matrix Ranking; Venn & Network Diagrams; Triangulation as well as Interviews among others (Fielding & Fielding, 1986; Chambers, 1992; FAO 1990, 1994; Guijt & van Veldhuizen, 1998).

In an attempt to identify problems experienced by traditional healers in accessing medicinal plants and to involve them in an Integrated Conservation and Development Project of the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa, a PRA exercise was conducted to identify areas where resources were harvested. With a map of KNP and the position of the village, members identified various areas of the park where specific herbs can be obtained, something new to the rangers and scientists of the KNP (Botha, 1998). Similarly in a survey to provide local valuation of savanna resources in Zimbabwe, Campbell et al. (1997) used PRA to trace the availability of products including non-wood resources with respect to specific seasons as perceived by the local people all year round (Fig 1). In another exercise, other techniques to determine major resource units through a product (resource) flow diagram (Fig. 2), resource maps and aerial photographs were carried out.

Fig. 1: The results of a Seasonal Calendar derived from PRA exercise

Planting Crops            
Harvesting Crops            
Selling Crops            
Cattle Herding            
Wild Fruits            
Thatching Grass            
Making Mats            
Home Building            
Season Wet   CoolDry  HotDry

Source: Campbell et al. (1997)

Fig. 2: Resource Flow Diagram Showing Inventory of Sources of Products

Fig. 2

Source: Campbell et al. (1997)

The challenge of using PRA for NWFP inventory and mapping

Sampling techniques that provide representative measures of species diversity and abundance are often used to generate results even where different microenvironments are involved. General inferences drawn from such qualitative work might not auger well for understanding types and patterns of distributions of economically important species undergoing harvesting due to differences in microenvironmental impacts. A useful inventory should therefore take advantage of local knowledge and skills (Redford et al., 1995; Hammett & Chamberlain, 1998; CEP, 1999).

Martin (1995) noted that in making surveys of useful plant products in a communal land, one has to decide and choose to focus on a particular resource or product for measuring the overall abundance in that particular environment. Alternatively, measuring individuals of the same species in different size classes provides an understanding of the species population dynamics. These further provide an impetus for assessing harvesting levels and impacts, an effort being made by ethnobotanists in recent years through the establishment of permanent utilizable plots.

The inclusion of local people in a team of researchers is appropriate because they have a long history of harvesting or extraction and unique traditional use in the area, blended with their strong perception of identification and location of resources. Inventories are noted to be expensive especially when many specialists referred to in this paper as “outside researchers” have to be consulted, and often marred by a lack of respect for local knowledge. This is however better in well-defined plantations.

Moreover, inventories become tedious when there are no clear-cut boundaries to resource location, absence of harvesting history and intensity, parts used by people and at what time and seasons. Self-seeking interests that tend to ignore the rules of use and population dynamics can undermine inventories, resulting in unsustainable harvesting. A properly constituted team of researchers with the highest representation of local resource users is paramount for a successful inventory of forest products. This further provides checks on researchers under pressure and eager to publish as soon as possible so that both parties can compromise on what information should be widely published (Milliken & Albert, 1996).

In the NWFP sector, inventory information can lead to complex exploitation situations which might in turn propel a mismatch between community and scientific aspirations as this is likely to betray traditional knowledge and awaken the greed of outsiders (Dove, 1993; Statz, 1997; Gyllenhaal, 2000). Local involvement is therefore an important part of a process to empower user and harvesting groups to have the political will to determine how to promote and manage these resources. A follow-up is to provide technical assistance to the user groups, focusing on the provision of methodological skills (Statz, 1997; Aumeeruddy-Thomas et al., 1999).

Why involve Local People and Resource User Groups in Inventories?

There have been instances where PAR has been used to involve local people in formal research projects with harvesters and user groups serving as assistants in a similar fashion to PRA techniques. This has been noted to provide in-depth knowledge for managing natural resources, and more beneficially, providing local residents the opportunity to learn to design, administer and interpret identifiable community specific problems (Tuxill & Nabhan, 1998). This strategy has been used by a group of researchers where young adults were recruited from villages in Zimbabwe to take part in a study to value savanna resources (Fig. 1 & 2, Box 1), (Campbell et al., 1997).

Many traditional and local communities possess long experience in the harvesting and use of biological resources (Garcia-Brokhausen, 1997) and non-wood forest resources as sources of livelihoods. The new conservation science recognizes first and foremost the historical importance of local people as having the knowledge and skill to manage biodiversity through their bio-cultural diversity (McNeely, 1992). Historically, it has been argued that what we see today has been protected by traditional knowledge, indigenous technology and cultural factors such as taboos which place limitation on resource use by people (Berkes, 1989). Rural people who live in intimate contact with their major resources could provide much of the intellectual raw material for the present call for harvesting and managing non-wood forest resources whether or not in plantations or natural stands.

It is also an opportunity to tap into useful knowledge that might be required for future management practices because people's interactions with nature have been mediated through judgement structures often referred to as indigenous knowledge (Larson, 1998; CEP, 1999). This forms the basis for local level decision making in aspects of livelihoods and resource management, with women playing major roles. This knowledge, embracing a system of organization and self-management that directs the course of resource use and principles of empirical perception about local people's environment and survival, provides a confidently supportive role to inventories.

Including local people in surveys is a form of motivation as they receive training in several modern and orthodox techniques; becoming acquainted with compasses and clinometers, learning to interpret and read topographic maps, measuring tree diameters and canopy sizes, laying out transects and plots (Tuxill & Nabhan, 1998). Though this may appear to be time wasting, the long term benefits are significant not only for giving them the opportunity to acquire some skills and knowledge but also having another view of the resources available to them. In addition, it provides a challenge towards the development of a sense of responsibility and accountability in managing their resources.

Where inventories touch on resources harvested from areas such as traditional reserves and sacred groves, local involvement is useful because these areas are usually demarcated on cultural grounds based on site-specific traditions and economies. These reserves refer to ways of life and resource utilization that have evolved in place and representing the direct expression of the relationship between communities and their habitats, revered and protected by custom. These are guarded by a council of elders who decree the use of the area and permissible species and products (Wilson, 1993; Kleymeyer, 1994). At a local level, sacred groves are similar to National Parks at national level.

Box 1: Local Participation in NWFP Study in Eastern Zimbabwe.

The utilization of baobabs in Africa is not a new phenomenon as this has been in existence for several years and used for various purposes especially in traditional settings. In eastern Zimbabwe, there is a remarkable dependence of communities with baobab for non-wood resources. These are fibre, fruits, source of green vegetable, medicine and organic fertilizer. The finished products of the fibre obtained from harvested bark are baskets, bags and hats; woven blankets, ropes, whips and sewing thread; plaited mats and rugs. The fruit shell is a source of a locally prepared snuff and receptacle for households' foodstuff. The pulp of the seed popularly referred to as monkey bread is consumed by humans and largely traded in the region. The seeds would normally be roasted, and turned into powder for preparing beverage as a substitute for exotic beverages. The green fresh and tender fruits considered as vegetables are a delicacy for the local people.

The multiple-use values are a clear indication of the possibility of overharvesting, evidenced in recent studies on the impact of human use on sustaining the population of the baobab in Zimbabwe (Mudavanhu, 1998; Mukamuri & Kozanayi, 1999). However, the implications of commercializing baobab products on the long-term usage of the resource base have not been fully investigated. The harvesting of bark is done from various size classes of trees mainly in the dry season when there is little activity in the agricultural fields. A workshop was therefore organized to understand the market chains involved in tree-based products with a focus on baobab. As part of the issues that were addressed, the state of the resources, in this case baobab, was investigated to determine whether the current marketing arrangement was ecologically sustainable.

The workshop drew on few individuals from the target communities to join the team of researchers to plan and execute the various activities among which inventory was important for the bark products. In addition, several enumerators from the communities were mobilized and trained to administer questionnaires whilst some helped to facilitate PRA exercises and provided guidance for field surveys. The locals, who prior to the activities had no professional insight, became very conversant with the issues at stake. Coupled with their traditional knowledge, they assisted in integrating socio-cultural, economic and ecological assessments. Some of the questions that answers were sought for included:

  • How much baobab bark is harvested annually?
  • How do the trees regenerate and how this is affected by the consumption of reproductive parts such as fruit and seed?
  • What is the rate of bark regeneration and how this is correlated with age and size of harvested parts (scars)?
  • What the impacts of other products from the baobab on bark production are?
  • What is the impact of bark harvesting on tree vigour?
  • What is the relationship between sustainability of the resource base and harvesting rate?
  • What are the tenure and institutional arrangements?

Defining the Involvement of Local People

The term involvement or participation has been interpreted in many ways, ranging from passive participation where people are included in a project merely by being told about the said activity, through to self-mobilization, where people take initiatives and responsibilities without or with limited external influence (Pimbert & Pretty, 1995; Pretty, 1994). Pretty (1994) defines seven important types of participation required for conservation, useful for inventories but for the purpose of this paper, three are listed below:

Participatory approaches are mostly human centred hence require caution and bearing in mind, central concepts of empowerment, respect, localization of resources, enjoyment and inclusiveness of people (Pretty et al., 1995).

Beyond PRA

Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques have mostly featured at higher levels of peoples' perception and experiences, gathering members of a community in small, large or peer groups presented with a topic to discuss. Notwithstanding the problem of domineering by some members of the group coupled with disagreements which might tend to defeat the purpose of the exercise, it is recommended that results from this should not be seen as the ultimate goal. Further down the process of involving local people, household interviews and key informant interviews are carried out as complements. In a study to value the utilization of woodland resources in South Africa, an approach similar to PRA was used at the household level (Dovie, in prep.).

Though the main method for data collection was household interviews, the individual or key informant being interviewed is asked to perform exercises characteristics of PRA, such as resource mapping and product flow diagrams, as well as seasonal calendars. Where there were doubts and uncertainties, other members of the household jointly contributed to the discussion and a compilation of these represents another dimension of participation. It has therefore been realized that most of the weaknesses associated with PRA at the higher level could be resolved by building a hierarchy of categorized participatory inventory activities and results integrated into those of a PRA at communal level. This leads to a further complement to participatory appraisal methods known as a “Hierarchical Valuation Scheme” (HVS), (Dovie, in prep). The HVS adequately caters for the concern that information generated through PRA portrays public knowledge and associated researchers have limited access to knowledge held by individuals (Stadler, 1995).


Involving local people in inventories is not an easy task especially when they have little technical expertise or experience. Even where communities have no professional expertise about the resources they exploit, researchers have in the past used and continue to adopt Rapid Rural Appraisal techniques for undertaking inventories when they talk about grassroots involvement. To whose detriment, or advantage? It has been argued that if researchers wish to use RRA, then it should only serve as a baseline method for a background search for available knowledge and literature and not producing results by itself (Dovie & Witkowski, 1999). They further noted that when using PRA, issues that appear to be dissociated from the subject matter can still be captured as these may serve as indicators of the extent of resource use, citing examples of nutrition, land tenure, conflicts and agriculture.

A more formal way of promoting local participation will be to provide them with the opportunity to acquire some knowledge and skills through paraprofessional training workshops and exercises. Such training can expose them to ecological field techniques, mapping exercises, regeneration, yield and harvest studies. They can also form a fulcrum for facilitating PRA activities, providing better perceptions into the dynamics of PRA tools and local people's use of resources. In cases where tenure of forests is controlled by diverse groups of people as observed in community extractive reserves, we recommend the use of the Hierarchical Valuation Scheme as a complement to PRA. The HVS seeks to bring together people with common socio-cultural values and norms to provide insights into their stakes in a resource.

Finally, we argue that involving local people in inventories and mapping of NWFP is inevitable in quantitative surveys, a process which must be given time to develop. Above all, local involvement for undertaking inventories should not be seen as a means of cost effectiveness, cheap labour or the opportunity to tap ‘free’ knowledge but a sound foundation for partnership development, introducing new operations and opportunity for conflict resolution. This should be seen as a process to promote benefit sharing, enhance the socio-economic lives of the people and in the long term, provide opportunities for accountability for improved and acceptable rural development.


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Definitions of Technical Terms Used

Community Extractive Reserves: These are conservation areas of high level of biodiversity, demarcated through the efforts of traditional populations to guarantee their rights of access to resources such as non-timber forest products.

Hierarchical Valuation Scheme (HVS): This is a system of participatory approach to research, drawing on some techniques of PRA at lower levels such as key informants, and households with common socio-cultural and economic attributes, conducted at various levels of a community to form a hierarchy of results from which one makes an inference.

Indigenous Knowledge: This defines a body of knowledge and beliefs nurtured and handed down generations by groups of people but without written records, in understanding the relationship between humans and the environment through oral tradition and action.

Inventory: A detail listing of resources, in this case NWFP, their sources and all other factors influencing harvesting and the resource base.

Livelihoods: Means of living or of supporting life to meet individual and community needs.

Microenvironment: This refers to smaller units of an environment, constituting a landscape within the context of similar but distinguished characteristics often detectable through long-term acquaintance. It may also be considered as patch mosaic.

Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP): These are biological resources derived from forest, woodland and agroforestry systems having no woody products.

Outside Researchers: These are researchers considered to have little or no knowledge about an area or a resource and yet resistant to accepting the realities of the ground situation.

Paraprofessional Training: It is the training of local resource users, giving them the opportunity to acquire skill and knowledge similar to that of professionals through various training exercises.

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA): This can be described as a variety of techniques, methods and behaviours that enable people to elucidate and analyse the realities of their status of living, plan for themselves what actions to take, monitor and assess the results.

Secondary Forest Products: Natural resources available from a given piece of land, coincidental to the primary management objectives. Thus management can still adhere to its primary objective such as maintaining wild animals, but at the same time harvest thatch grass, wild fruits, medicinal plants and fodder.

Stakeholders: These are local residents and users of a resource, social actors, administrative authorities, the business community, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well all other institutions whose activities directly or indirectly affect the resource.

Sustainable Harvesting: Within this context, it is the situation whereby one ensures that harvesting does not deplete the resource base, and allowing the resource to recover.


MM. Delali B. DOVIE, Ed T.F. WITKOWSKI *, & Charlie M. SHACKLETON**
* Département des sciences animales, végétales et environnementales Université du Witwatersrand, JOHANNESBURG
** Programme des Sciences environnementales, Université de Rhodes, GRAHAMSTOWN
Afrique du Sud


Les produits forestiers autres que le bois représentent une part importante mais sous-estimée de l'économie de nombreux pays et constitue une incitation efficace à la préservation des forêts, des terres boisées et d'autres écosystèmes. L'utilisation de ces produits par les habitants des zones rurales qui peuvent en vivre s'est développée et est devenue une véritable activité génératrice de revenus, avec des actifs et des droits, qui contribue à leur subsistance. Il est donc important de faire participer de façon réelle et authentique les populations rurales à toute activité concernant la gestion des produits autres que le bois. Pour aménager de façon durable les écosystèmes qui recèlent ces produits et réduire la vulnérabilité des personnes qui en sont totalement tributaires, il est nécessaire d'évaluer les pertes dues à l'exploitation de ces ressources par rapport aux avantages qui peuvent en être retirés. De plus, il est essentiel de démontrer la possibilité de les associer à la promotion d'une exploitation durable et cet élément n'est pas suffisamment pris en compte avec les relevés de stocks réalisés par inventaire.

L'exposé ne vise nullement à analyser en détail les diverses méthodes d'inventaire mais vise simplement à en revoir certaines, indispensables quand la consommation humaine de ressources biologiques est importante. L'information la plus fondamentale qui peut être nécessaire pour assurer une gestion durable des produits forestiers autres que le bois est l'estimation de la répartition, de l'abondance et du taux de régénération de la ressource ou de l'espèce. Il ne fait aucun doute que la connaissance de ces estimations représente le fondement de l'étude de l'évolution des stocks des différentes espèces, et fournit par la suite des renseignements utiles pour évaluer et suivre les incidences de la récolte.

Pour pouvoir élaborer une stratégie d'aménagement durable pour les produits forestiers autres que le bois, il est suggéré de concevoir les études d'inventaire de façon à inclure la question du volume de produits qui doit être récolté pour assurer la durabilité de la ressource dans le cas d'une récolte continue. Il y a donc lieu de considérer les études de régénération et les évaluations des volumes à récolter comme faisant partie intégrante des inventaires et non pas de les traiter comme des éléments séparés de l'exploitation durable. Dans le cadre de l'inventaire, on utilise diverses techniques de cartographie - allant du relevé des paysages et des limites écologiques et politiques jusqu'à des méthodes plus élaborées comme les photographies aériennes, le Système d'information géographique et la télédétection, et les coordonnées géographiques, tout particulièrement le système mondial de localisation - pour établir la carte de la répartition des produits forestiers et d'autres caractéristiques.

Le document examine d'autres méthodes d'inventaire que les méthodes traditionnelles, qui ne sont pas adaptées et ne sont pas participatives, et ne sont utilisées que par des “chercheurs extérieurs”; la participation des personnes qui dépendent de la ressource à tous les niveaux y est examinée et les connaissances autochtones y sont reconnues; une monographie portant sur une région de l'Afrique subsaharienne est utilisée. Il s'agit de facteurs essentiels pour garantir la gestion durable des produits forestiers autres que le bois à l'extérieur des zones protégées et aussi pour assurer la perpétuation de la plupart des espèces dans les zones protégées, en particulier quand les caractéristiques de leur cycle de végétation sont liées à des espèces extérieures à la zone protégée. L'objet du document est donc d'examiner et de proposer plusieurs méthodes d'action et d'apprentissage participatifs pour inventorier les produits forestiers autres que le bois. L'accent sera mis sur les techniques d'évaluation rurale participative et sur la façon dont elles complètent les techniques écologiques et autres.

Mots clefs : Inventaire; source de revenus; participatif; chercheurs extérieurs; exploitation durable; produits forestiers autres que le bois.

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