We are delighted that Dr Wulf Killmann, Director of the Forest Products Division, has accepted our invitation to write the editorial for this special tenth anniversary edition.
This, the tenth edition of Non-Wood News, once again features information on a wide range of products from agar wood to ivory and palm kernels covering a geographic area from Australia to Zimbabwe. The number of articles on bamboo is an indication of the importance attached to this non-wood forest product. Issues covered include bioprospecting, but also biopiracy, and there are articles on such varied subjects as medicinal plants and ecotourism. This issue thus reflects the vast scope covered by non-wood forest products, underlining the ambitious nature of our undertaking when we started a news-exchange service on this subject-matter ten years ago.
When an anniversary draws near, we often find ourselves in a reflective mood and as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Non-Wood News it is a source of satisfaction to see how the newsletter has grown - not only in length, but also in its readership. In fact, Non-Wood News has doubled its print-run from that first issue in 1994 (from 2 000 to 4 000), has more pages (from 48 to more than 100) and now reaches more people worldwide.
In recent years we have seen the spotlight shifting away from non-wood forest products to today's more pressing and high-profile subjects. But the role played by non-wood forest products in maintaining the food security and livelihoods of indigenous people is vital. We must not forget that "of the 6.2 billion people on the planet, 25 percent depend to varying degrees on the forest's resources for their livelihood" and that "350 million people living in or near dense forest depend highly on it for their subsistence or livelihood". The Forest Products Division of FAO's Forestry Department has always been fully aware of this importance and has supported the dissemination of information on all aspects of non-wood forest products, through publications, seminars, international meetings and, naturally, through its flagship newsletter Non-Wood News.
Through Non-Wood News we try to give a voice to all the actors in the non-wood forest products field. We receive contributions from all over the world and from all walks of society: from students to university professors; from indigenous groups to non-governmental organizations; from forestry officers to national forest services. Reader feedback has been immense and constant. Judging by the correspondence we receive, I know just how much Non-Wood News fills a knowledge gap. It is welcomed and (may I say) held in affection by both academics and those at the grassroots level alike. During the years that I have been Director of the Forest Products Division, I have come to appreciate what a loyal readership Non-Wood News has.
But Non-Wood News would be nothing without you, the reader. So, together with the members of the Non-Wood Forest Products Programme, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your contributions and for your loyalty over the years. We look forward to another ten years of working and building together.
MESSAGE FROM C. CHANDRASEKHARAN, FOUNDER OF NON-WOOD NEWS
I am extremely delighted to note that Non-wood News is completing ten years of exceptionally useful service. This tenth anniversary is a significantly happy occasion. When Non-wood News made its bold, though tentative, appearance in 1994, sceptics predicted that Non-wood News will become a "non-news". The phenomenal (and well-deserved) popularity and success of the journal proved them wrong!.
As the first genuine international vehicle meant to promote NWFPs, this honest and ordinary-looking journal has been extraordinarily effective in pursuing its objective, namely "to provide its readers with useful information and insight about the promise that the future holds in the field of NWFPs and the issues to be addressed with regard to their sustainable development", in a focused and straightforward manner. That probably is the simple secret of the success of Non-wood News.
Over the years, Non-wood News has brought together from different parts of the world, and disseminated, massive amount of information and enormous variety of practical experience in addressing issues on conserving, cultivating, developing, managing, harvesting, processing and marketing of NWFPs under varying technological, institutional, socio-economic and political environments. It helped the re-emergence of NWFPs from their relative obscurity, highlighting their environmental significance, the huge variety of direct and indirect uses and benefits derivable, and the enormous wealth of chemicals stored in them.
Non-wood News has encouraged many interesting initiatives, around the world, on: developing NWFPs for producing food and food additives, medicine, fiber, essential oils, tannin, gums, resin, flavours, fragrances, insecticides and beverages of natural origin; research relating to issues surrounding the technical and economic aspects, and access and use of NWFPs; and the role of NWFPs in conservation of bio-diversity. These initiatives call for establishing linkages between the antiquity of culture and indigenous knowledge and continuity of scientific progress.
Non-wood News has appropriately underscored the need for correcting the timber focus of forestry. For sound and sustainable forestry, the rational principle to be adopted is the balanced development of wood and non-wood products - challenge of the balance, so to say. This is a challenge to be taken up seriously.
NWFPs, once known as Minor Forest Products, are now a major business. In all the efforts and approaches for developing NWFPs, marketing and trade remain a problem area. Market for NWFPs in most developing countries is unorganized and secretive; and trade, being subject to manipulation by intermediaries, is riddled with illegal practices and unacceptable exploitation of indigenous people. The producers/collectors of NWFPs do not often know the uses of the product, and the manufacturers do not know where the raw produce has come from. The whole area of NWFPs utilization lacks adequate regulations and policy. Non-wood News has in several instances served as the voice of "creative dissatisfaction", to draw the attention of policy makers and professionals, for remedying such situations.
The problem of NWFP sector is now receiving increasing attention of the media; and I do feel that Non-wood News has, to some extent, indirectly influenced that development. Also, the readers eagerly await the arrival of Non-wood News (which has been getting better with every Issue), with anticipation to learn about the new developments in the field of NWFPs. Several recipients in countries like China, India and Vietnam (particularly institutions) are known to make copies of Non-wood News for further circulation.
The source of the information, analytical notes, comments, research results, policy studies and abstracts included in the Non-wood News are the large number of generous individuals and institutional representatives who are ever willing to share their experiences and insights unreservedly with others. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Non-wood News, I wish to pay warm tribute to them.
Furthermore, I wish to express my appreciation, admiration and congratulations to those persons in the Wood and Non-wood Products Utilization Branch of the FAO Forest Products Division in Rome, who are wholeheartedly involved in compiling, editing and bringing out Non-wood News regularly, with substantial content and simply elegant format, for their dedication and excellent work.
May Non-wood News grow from strength to strength and succeed in all its missions.