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10.1 Status of NWFP statistics

Mexico was one of the countries participating in the FAO Workshop on NWFP in Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago, Chile 1994 (FAO 1995b). Mario Aguilar Hernández contributed a country report detailing some of the major NWFP. More detailed information on Mexico’s NWFP was published in an earlier book by Romahn de la Vega. (1992). Updating and complementing the two studies is a major Mexican government study which looked at NWFP on a regional basis (CTCNF 1996). As a result of these three publications, the status of Mexico’s NWFP is as well documented as any country in the region. The table accompanying this discussion contains 39 entries.


10.2 Non-wood goods and services

Mexico is a large country with a broad range of physical environments, which provide a great variety of NWFP. Following is a summary of the most important products:

Mexico’s natural landscapes, especially its coastal areas and forests, are major attractions for nature-based tourism. An extensive network of 30 protected areas exists in Mexico, covering slightly more than 550 000 ha. Nineteen are in the highest protected category as national parks (IUCN 1982).


10.3 Non-wood goods

Mexico officially recognizes about 250 NWFP, of which around 70 are considered to be the most commercial and their exploitation is subject to some form of control. The economic value generated by NWFP in 1994 was on the order of 75,3 million new pesos. Broken down the country into three ecosystems shows the following percentage of production by weight and percentage of total value of NWFP: arid-semiarid ecosystem 25,7% and 24,2%; temperate cool ecosystem 66,6 % and 45,9%; tropical ecosystem 21% and 31,7%. This is an interesting statistic since it reveals the national predominance of NWFP in the temperate climate portion of Mexico. However, it should be pointed out that by itself pine resin production in Jalisco and Michoacán states accounts for 53,7 % of production by weight and 38,3% of value for the temperate cool ecosystem (CTCNF 1996).


10.3.1 Ornamental plants

Chamaedorea palm leaves and seed represent the most important ornamental NWFP, with 1 494 t of leaves and 216 t of seed registered for 1994, as well as sotal plants (6 t), Spanish moss (675 t) and moss (258 t).

10.3.2 Bamboo and other fibers

Bamboo production in 1994 from only Nayarit state amounted to 127 t, which certainly understates the importance of these plants which are widespread in Mexico. Guia parra silvestre is a source of plant supports; 74 t were produced in 1994. . Ixtle is a general term for fiber from agave and yucca; in 1994 production stood at 1 032 t. That year 703 t of palmilla fiber and 635 t of lechugilla fiber were produced. Vara de perlilla is a broom fiber plant; in 1994 production was 81 t. Palm thatch use is widespread in tropical Mexico; the production of 26 t recorded from the Washingtonia palm; 2 321 t of palapa fiber in Nayarit state; 64 t of Sabal palm fiber in Yucatán state and palma real fiber in various states (3 415 t); all appear to be underreported.

10.3.3 Resin

Mexico is a major producer of resin (36 731 t in 1994), from which are derived gum rosin (22 000 t in 1991) and turpentine (4 000 t in 1991). In addition to native pines, an estimated 259 000 ha of tree plantations exist in the country.

10.3.4 Wax, tannin and gum

Candelilla wax production was 1 608 t, tannin 971 t and gum 393 t; data for 1994. All three products are derived from wild plants.

10.3.5 Medicine

Barbasco root production stood at 1 404 t in 1989 but the product has been replaced by synthetic sources of the steroid it contains and therefore is no longer reported as a commercial product. Barbasco is mentioned here to exemplify the volatile nature of some NWFP. Production of damiana leaves was 4 t in 1994; damiana contains a natural laxative and stimulant. A total of 258 t of Aloe vera juice was reported in 1994. These examples are but two of hundreds of medicinal plants in use in Mexico.

10.3.6 Yucca, opuntia and agave products

These plant types are traditional sources of NWFP in Mexico. Yuccas furnish sap (4 791 t) which has several food and drug industry uses. Opuntia cacti leaves (2 146 t) are eaten by humans and provide forage for animals. Cactus fruits are also important but no production data are available. The agaves are sources of forage, fiber and the juice used in making alcoholicbeverages. Production of 5 060 t was reported. All statistics in this paragraph apply to 1994.

10.3.7 Nuts

Cultivated nuts in Mexico were represented in 1997 by dates (2 000 t), coconut (1,169 t of nuts) and walnut, (19 000 t, in shell). Mexico recorded small production quantities of pecan (176 t) and pine nuts (181 t) in 1994.

10.3.8 Edible oils

Data on the land area devoted to oil palm plantations is not available, but in 1997 estimated production of palm kernels was 16 000 t, and palm oil was also16 000 t.

10.3.9 Spices

For spices, there are 1994 data available on pepper (3 788 t) and bay leaf (6 t).

10.4 Other NWF plant products

In 1997 Mexico recorded production of 49 000 t of cocoa beans.

10.4.1 Mushrooms

Mexico’s mushroom production in 1994 was recorded at 21 t, with exports being important.

10.4.2 Honey

Honey production was 54 000 t in 1997.

10.5 References

Coppen, J.J.W. 1995. Gums, resins and latexes of plant origin. Non-Wood Forest Products 6. FAO, Rome.

Coppen, J. J. W., Hone, G. A. 1995. Gum naval stores: turpentine and rosin from pine resin. Non-Wood Forest Products 2. FAO, Rome.

CTCNF. 1996. Los recursos forestales no maderables de México. Consejo Técnico Consultivo Nacional Forestal, Mexido, D.F.

FAO. 1995a. Forest resources assessment 1990. Tropical forest plantation resources. Forestry Paper 128. FAO, Rome.

FAO. 1995b. Memoria: consulta de expertos sobre productos forestales no madereros para America Latin y el Caribe. Forestry Series No. 1, Santiago.

FAO. 1997. Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission. State of forestry in the region - 1996. Forestry Series No. 8. FAO, Santiago.

FAO. 1998. FAO production yearbook. Vol. 51 – 1997. FAO, Rome.

González Leija, L. A. 1987. Mexican non-wood forest products. North American Forestry Commission Fourteenth Session, Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada 13-17 October 1987.

IUCN. 1982. IUCN Directory of Neotropical Protected Areas. Tycooly Publishing, Dublin.

Romahn de la Vega, C. F. 1992. Principales productos forestales no maderables de México.Universidad Autonoma Chapingo.


10.6 Resource Persons

Mario Aguilar Hernández, Subsecretaría Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre, Av. Progreso No. 5, Colonia del Carmen, Delegacion Coyoacan, 04100 Mexico, D.F., Mexico. Tel: 915 658 4889.

Victor Sosa Cedillo, Subsecretaría de Recursos Naturales. E-mail:


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