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In most African countries, non-wood forest products (NWFP) play a significant role in livelihoods by providing key subsistence products and income. In Madagascar, NWFP such as medicinal plants, ornamental plants (e.g. orchids, aquatic plants), xerophytes, essential oils (e.g. Syzygium sp.) and living animals (e.g. birds, mammals, reptiles, insects) represent 40 percent of the export value of the entire forest products sector.

Despite its socio-economic importance, the availability of statistical data on social, economic and ecological aspects of NWFP is very limited. Therefore a study on Data collection and analysis related to NWFP - a pilot study in Madagascar was carried out within the context of the European Commission-FAO Partnership Programme Data collection and analysis for sustainable forest management in ACP countries - linking national and international efforts. The main objective of the study was to review available information on NWFP in Madagascar and to propose an appropriate methodology to improve the quality and quantity of statistical data on NWFP in the country. Preliminary results of the study were presented and discussed in a workshop held in Antananarivo in November 2001.

In Madagascar, NWFP statistics are collected and maintained by various institutions such as the Service de la Conservation de la Biodiversité with regard to NWFP listed on the appendixes of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Service de la Valorisation Economique des Ressources Forestières for NWFP not covered by CITES.

The study proposes a methodology to improve the availability of data on the production, the consumption and the marketing of NWFP of major importance in Madagascar. This methodology covers eco-biological, socio-economic, technical and statistical aspects and is divided into four phases: i) preparation; ii) data collection; iii) data analysis; and iv) data storage and dissemination.

The proposed methodology was tested for the frog Mantella aurantica and the medicinal plants Catharanthus roseus and Prunus africana. The case studies analyse quantitative and qualitative information, propose a data collection form for animals and plants and present recommendations for a better use and improved statistical data collection of NWFP.

The study concludes that many gaps, irregularities and challenges still exist with regard to the use of NWFP, including their monitoring and evaluation. The study notes the urgency to implement a plan of action for the entire NWFP sector in order to promote the sustainable use of NWFP and presents a programme of work for the development of an appropriate data collection system with regard to NWFP.

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