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Economic value of nwfps
Trade in nwfps

Economic value of nwfps

Forestry products gain market in Brazil

Food, fashion and furniture. These are the profits that come from the forest. Almost 8 400 people visited the Forest Market, the first fair on sustainable forestry products held in Brazil, from 5 to 8 November 2005 in São Paulo. Visitors had the opportunity to learn about 204 enterprises with projects reflecting the biodiversity of ecosystems such as Amazonia, the Atlantic forest and savannah. A group of four environmental organizations (Amigos da Terra, Imazon, Imaflora and the Reserva da Biosfera da Mata Atlântica) joined together to conduct the fair with products originating from forests, all produced in a sustainable manner.

The principal objective of the event, i.e. increasing business and making contacts for future business, was quite successful: the majority left the event with orders or contacts for sales. With products directed as much at retail stores as at the industries of transformation, the fair offered honey, oils and materials for cosmetics, bags of vegetable leather and timber for furniture designers. “The forestry economy is a reality in terms of employment and income,” affirmed the director of Amigos da Terra, Roberto Smeraldi. Quantifying this reality was one of the challenges faced by the organizers.

Listed below are some of the cases that can be considered emblematic of the diversity of commercial relations regarding NWFPs established during the Forest Market and that show their market potential.

• The Kayapó People of the Indigenous Territory of Bau sold their entire crop of Para nut oil, for a total of R$50 620.

• Artisans linked to SEBRAE of Tocantins state sold at retail R$7 250 jatoba dolls and golden grass (capim dourado) products.

• The APA cooperative from Rondonia estimated that through contacts made during the fair it will increase sales of cupuacu (plant of the cacao tree) pulp by 100 tonnes starting with the next harvest.

• Five São Paulo companies requested native cacao from the next harvest from the producers along the riverbanks of the Urucurituba in Amazonas state.

“We do not have an exact notion yet what the forestry economy represents for Brazil. What will come to São Paulo will be only a sample of the innumerable types of products and services that the forest can generate,” stated Smeraldi. The list is extensive and covers items such as typical fruits, cosmetics, handicrafts and vegetable leather.

The intention was to offer visibility for small businesses, such that they become part of the most varied productive chains. As an example, Smeraldi made reference to native cacao, produced on the river plains of the Amazonas River. In Amazonia, native cacao, a tree that can reach up to
15 m, has special characteristics that make it an interesting product for predetermined niches in the market, such as the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and fine chocolate industries. This cacao has a larger content of major fats than the cultivated species, which makes it more resistant to heat. “But as it is missing the structured productive chain, this special cacao often falls into the common grave of cultivated cacao,” Smeraldi stated. “This is the type of product that we will show at the fair.” (Sources: O Estado de S. Paulo, 13 October 2005 and 2 November 2005 and Mercado Floresta, 11 November 2005.)

NTFPs in the Russian Far East: challenges and opportunities

The Russian Far East is a land of “NTFP opportunities” for local forest-based communities yet external persuasion is still necessary to prove this fact to local stakeholders. It is a vast geographically and climatically diverse region, extending from the Arctic Ocean to the Sea of Japan. There are areas on the southern part of the region – the Primorie and southern part of Sakhalin Island – where the ecosystems are quite diverse and highly regarded species, such as Schisandra chinensis and Actinidia spp. can be found. However, most of the region is represented by the “usual” (boreal ecosystem) NTFPs that in most cases can be found on both sides of the Pacific, although sometimes represented by endemic species and subspecies.

Nevertheless, even these “usual” and widespread plants have enormous potential as NTFP resources. Yet, as a result of the degradation of indigenous cultures, lack of small business development history and federal support, they are mostly neglected as important tools for community economic development and cultural revival.

The literature research of the World Conservation Union (IUCN)-Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Project “Building Partnerships for Forest Conservation and Management in Russia” demonstrated that 33 species, growing just on the Kamchatka Peninsula, can be used as wild vegetables; 22 species have edible berries and fruit; 28 make herbal teas; 14 can be used for weaving; and 251 are useful for medicinal purposes.

Many of the products derived from these plants have clear marketing opportunities. However, less than a dozen are widely used by local communities as food sources (some berries, wild onions, nuts and mushrooms), and only two, Vaccinium vitisidaea and fern, are sold commercially. This is surprising because the region has a long history of NTFPs; many, such as charcoal, honey, herbal teas and turpentine, were listed as major export items 150 years ago. There are several Native nations that were intensively using NTFPs before the Russians started exploring Kamchatka in the eighteenth century.

Why are NTFPs not bringing money into the pockets of forest-based communities, and in many places are not even viewed as an important resource?

As usual, there is no simple answer. On the one hand, the traditional knowledge of both Native and Russian populations about wild harvested plants has been seriously eroded; most people now know just a few plants that can be harvested from the forest or tundra, compared with 150 years ago when Itelmen Native people were reported to use over 100 wild plant species intensively. On the other hand, there are many barriers for NTFP market development in Russia by local communities. There are psychological barriers since many people do not believe in their own ability to change their lives and they wait for somebody else to help. Problems for distant villages are the lack of processing equipment and skills, knowledge about markets and marketing, and the money necessary to set up a business. High transportation costs and taxes are also a difficulty. Natural resource managers and authorities often neglect the advantages that NTFP-based business development could create for local communities and environment preservation.

As demonstrated in the Russian Far East and by the IUCN-the Netherlands Foundation Project “Gifts of Mountain Shoria Forests” in the Kemerovo region in Siberia, international projects can assist local communities to overcome many challenges in starting an NTFP business. An important key to success is long-term assistance to remote communities in product marketing, marketing strategies, sustainable harvesting practices, etc.

It is usually difficult to convince donor agencies or local authorities that without effective long-term support many NTFP projects are doomed because of the nature of the resource. Long-term initiatives, which could be self-sustainable over time, such as regional and/or national marketing centres for small NTFP producers, need to be developed to enable people to help themselves out of poverty though the sustainable use of NTFPs. (Contributed by: Nikolay Shmatkov, IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Office for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), 3, bld. 3, Stoliamy Per., Moscow 123022, Russian Federation. Tel./fax: +7 (095) 609 3411; e-mail:; www.iucn.ruand

Selling forest products to improve livelihoods in the Gambia

Poor communities in the Gambia are now earning a regular income by selling forest products, thanks to an FAO programme, funded by the Government of Norway, which helps communities to build up markets for local products. In a pilot area of 26 villages suffering from extreme poverty, people learned about the potential value of forest products and how they could be marketed more successfully.

Villagers interested in marketing forest products have set up their own businesses and organized themselves in producer associations to sell honey, logs, fuelwood, mahogany posts, handicrafts and palm oil at nearby markets. They are also earning additional incomes from tree nurseries and ecotourism.

“Before the start of the project, villagers had not explored the market potentials of handicrafts made of rhun palm leaves, because they did not have the practical skills or market knowledge. Now they are selling products such as chairs, tables, lampshades, baskets and beds made of these leaves,” said Sophie Grouwels, an FAO community forestry expert.

In the 1990s, the Government of the Gambia introduced community forestry, giving ownership to the communities, in an attempt to improve forest management. Despite this change, communities still did not have many incentives to conserve the forests until the programme was introduced. “People who used to shun managing forests or exploited them, are now asking for more forests to own and manage in order to earn more income,” said Grouwels. “Given the success of this project, FAO hopes its methodology will be applied in other parts of the Gambia and in other countries.”

More information can be found in Empowering communities through forestry: Community-based enterprise development in the Gambia (Forestry Policy and Institutions Working Paper 8) available at by contacting Sophie Grouwels, Forestry Officer, Community-based Enterprise Development (CBED), Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. E-mail:;

Mushrooms: cash crops from the forest floor

British Columbia’s wild mushroom industry is unregulated and unmonitored. Accurate figures do not exist for amounts harvested, dollar values or the number of pickers. Import information from the Japanese Embassy in Vancouver is used to make educated guesses as to how many tonnes of fungi are being exported from the province. But, according to British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, there is one certainty: “there’s a ton of stuff coming out of the forest”.

Richard Winder, a director of the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society agrees that it is difficult to unearth hard data. He estimates that in 2004, 200 tonnes of morels, 100 tonnes of chanterelles and 100 tonnes of pine mushrooms were plucked out of the forests. More specifically, the chanterelle industry in northern Vancouver Island, which has wetter conditions and a longer growing season, flourished, enabling 100 pickers to sell to three buyers for much of the year. “I’m not sure what that translates into dollars, but it is an important sector in the NTFP sector.”

The Government of British Columbia has been asked repeatedly for funds to determine how many wild mushroom dollars – and how much lost tax revenues – are being sliced out of the forests. (Source: Globe and Mail [Canada], 17 October 2005.)


Truffles are famously expensive, but a charity auction attended by some of the United Kingdom’s most famous restaurateurs set a new record yesterday – £63 000 for a tartufo bianco (white truffle) weighing 1.2 kg. (Source: The Independent [UK], 14 November 2005.)

Nepal’s lokta resources and handmade paper

The area around Kailash village in Nepal’s Binayak Pimidanda Community Forest is endowed with abundant lokta (Daphne spp.), which is a preferred raw material for handmade paper. “If the forest is properly managed, it can supply more than 20 000 kg of dry lokta bark per year on a regular and sustainable basis,” added Sushil Gyawali, Assistant Project Monitoring Officer at the Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) office in Kathmandu.

After a thorough study – with the full participation of the local people – it was decided that prospects were sufficiently promising to embark on the establishment of a papermaking enterprise. ANSAB, with funding support from the Ford Foundation, has played an important part in the establishment of the paper factory, initially lending technical, financial and administrative support.

“Prior to the establishment of the community forest, local people used to cut lokta at random. The raw material was sold to business people and contractors from elsewhere,” recalled Surat B. Singh, chairperson of the Management Committee of the Malika Handmade Paper Industry. “Without proper management, the lokta resource was dwindling fast. Many business people were making profits, but the locals were still poor.”

Today, the Malika Handmade Paper Industry in Kailash village is one of the best-managed community enterprises in Nepal. A report by Dyuthan Choudhari, of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, stated that: “the model is designed around forestry resources based on the forest user group (FUG)’s common property, which provides sustainable income to local communities who have full rights over the resource”.

(Source: extracted from: Shree Binayak Pimidanda Community Forest: more than a paper tiger by H. B. Singh [in In search of excellence, exemplary forest management in Asia and the Pacific, ed. P.B. Durst, et al.].)

Growth of the bamboo sector in China

The annual growth of bamboo area averages 126 000 ha according to the statistics of the Sixth National Forest Resources Survey. The production value of China’s bamboo sector in 2004 was 45 billion yuan, a growth of more than 120 percent over that of 2000. Exports were US$600 million in 2004, an increase of 20 percent over 2000.

The great development of the bamboo industry has been achieved during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period. The bamboo sector has become one of the four largest forest industries in the country.

Bamboo forests cover 4.84 million ha in China, an increase of 631 800 ha compared with the 4.21 million ha recorded in the Fifth National Forest Resources Survey. (Source: People’s Daily online, 8 December 2005.)


Cuban pine resin in the international market

Cuba’s forestry sector is boosting the production of by-products, as part of a strategy to increase the island’s offers in the international market.

Baracoa’s Integral Forestry Company, in western Cuba, has increased production of pine resin, an essential component in several industrial products.

Pine resin is used to make wax, paint, soap, adhesives and pharmaceuticals, among other products in high demand. In addition, it is the raw material used to produce turpentine and colophony, which fight harmful insects.

Obtaining pine resin is a manual process and was resumed after nearly a decade, despite the vast areas of pine trees that exist in the region.

Experts predict an annual extraction of 100 tonnes of pine resin, so the country’s exporting potential will increase. (Source: CubaXP, 9 June 2005.)

NWFP cooperatives and the Siberian Pine Syrup Project

Native cooperatives in Kamchatka are growing larger and working hard. These cooperatives create exclusive merchandise with NWFPs and NTFPs, using traditional methods that reflect how people have been living in symbiosis with nature for centuries and how they continue to intensify and hand down their knowledge of forest resources and their properties, which are profoundly linked to their social and spiritual life.

Equally important is that this knowledge is today the basis of a “local sustainable livelihood strategy”, together with other elements such as ethnotourism and ecotourism (native dances, the possibility of visiting the villages and surroundings, etc.); cultural activities; fishing and hunting; and reindeer herding. These are all helping the communities to enter economic processes to counter the economic difficulties that the region is suffering.

The cooperatives are usually composed of artisans and herbal and resource experts, mostly women. As an example, the Aleskam Native People’s Community Cooperative is composed mainly of women, who cover the crafting, marketing and management roles, and two men – a biologist/medical herb specialist and a video documentarist – to film the production processes and record the indigenous way of using resources for official cultural archives and use in native schools.

A product of another group, the Tarija Native Peoples’ Community, is dwarf Siberian pine syrup, followed by Mrs Elena Posvolskaya and monitored by the World Conservation Union.

With the sustainable harvesting of dwarf Siberian pine needles, Mrs Posvolskaya manages to produce a sweet and tasty syrup that is much enjoyed when used with tea, as well as by itself. At the same time, the pine syrup’s medical properties act against throat infections, coughs and colds. This product shows how centuries-old indigenous knowledge regarding the medicinal properties of the pine is used today, fusing traditional knowledge, sustainable harvesting and production with economic support, and how this has actually changed Mrs Posvolskaya’s social and family role.

“Before starting this project,” Mrs Posvolskaya said, “my husband used to give me just enough money at the beginning of the month to buy food for meals and a few basics for myself. Today I have my own money, and he is constantly asking me to teach him marketing skills. My future plans are about expanding the sales on foreign markets, to fortify the market I already have in Moscow.” (Contributed by: Alessandro Toffoli, Via Bartolomeo Eustachio 4, 00161 Rome, Italy. E-mail:

Moss is a cash crop for mountain people in the United States of America

Moss is the all-purpose sponge of the forest, storing water, releasing nutrients and housing tiny creatures. But across Appalachia and in the Pacific Northwest, it is more than this. It is a way to make ends meet when jobs are few. Picking is hard work on a hot day. And it pays only about US$5 a sack. What is picked could end up in a floral arrangement or a craft project. Along the way, it will support more than a dozen jobs, from people who sort it, dry it and package it to those who ship and sell it. Nationwide, it is hard to tell how many people make a living from moss.

Moss is not commercially grown, so buyers depend on the wilderness. However, some state and national forests have already banned harvesting, worried about what they will lose when moss leaves the ecosystem.

Ethical pickers will not strip the logs bare, but will always leave clumps behind to help the spore-driven plant regenerate. To thrive, it needs moisture, cool temperatures and shade. How long it takes to grow back is a question that has some scientists and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service officials wrestling with the regulation of this secretive industry, where there are plenty of opinions but few facts.

North Carolina’s Pisgah and Nantahala national forests expect to ban moss collection from 1 January 2006 after studies there indicated a growback cycle “in the order of 15 to 20 years,” says botanical specialist Gary Kauffman of the Forest Service. This is twice as long as some veteran pickers and moss buyers think it will take. Although Kauffman agrees that the science is still lacking, Pisgah and Nantahala will probably err on the side of caution, meaning that the forests will be off-limits to the 100–200 pickers a year who typically get permits.

Sue Studlar, a West Virginia University biologist argues that overall, moss is “mined, rather than sustainably harvested” and that large-scale removal can inadvertently damage other species, from ferns to salamanders. The Monongahela national forest banned mossing in 2001 until it could study the impact. Two years later, Studlar concluded that picking should be discouraged near limestone cliffs and wet areas, that no log or rock should be stripped bare and that known “biodiversity hot spots” should be off-limits. But “potentially, if you did it right”, moss could be harvested without harming the ecosystem. It falls off in clumps naturally as it regenerates and pickers could harvest these remnants.

The Monongahela, which covers nearly 1 million acres (approximately 404 700 ha) in West Virginia, may someday restore moss-picking permits. Mossers say that they and others should be allowed to take non-timber products from the forest, including ginseng root and medicinal herbs such as goldenseal, before the loggers destroy them.

Pat Muir, a botanist at Oregon State University, estimates that mossing was a US$8.4–33.7 million business in 2003, with anywhere from 4.2 to 17 million lbs (1 905 000 to 7 711 070 kg) being harvested in the two dominant regions, Appalachia and the Pacific Northwest. (Source: Environmental News Network [ENN], Daily Newsletter, 17 October 2005.)

Economic benefits of conserving the rain forest

Conservation can bring in more dollars than it costs. Africa’s large mammals are famed for their ability to attract tourist dollars, but wildlife reserves without these mammals can still make enough money to benefit local people, say researchers.

In one of the first studies to consider the costs and benefits of protecting different numbers of species, scientists at Canada’s University of Alberta concluded that rain forest conservation can more than pay for itself, and is more profitable than clearing forests and using the land for farming.

Working in Uganda’s Mabira Forest Reserve, researchers found that tourists were willing to pay much more than the current US$5 entry fee for a chance to spot some of the reserve’s 143 bird species. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, recommends increasing the fee to about $47. The high charge would mean fewer visitors and so less of an impact on the forest. But enough tourists would still be willing to pay the fee to allow the reserve to protect 80–90 percent of its bird species while bringing greater economic benefits to local communities.

Lead author Robin Naidoo thinks Mabira might be representative of other reserves across the developing world. Many protected areas are under pressure from impoverished local populations who exploit them for resources such as timber, fuel and food. “The key is developing a mechanism whereby revenues flow back to the people who need them most, and in whose hands the future of these reserves lies – the local residents,” he says. “This will give them an economic incentive to protect tropical forests because they can earn more by preserving them than by chopping them down and farming the land,” he adds. (Source: SciDev.Net, 1 November 2005.)


• The Kenya Wildlife Service estimates that 80 percent of Kenya’s tourists are drawn by the country’s wildlife and that the tourism industry generates one-third of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

• Domestic and international travellers make more than 275 million visits a year to the 388 recreation areas administered by the United States National Park Service, generating direct and indirect economic benefits for local communities of more than US$14 billion annually and supporting almost 300 000 tourist-related jobs.

• Prior to the civil war in Rwanda, tourists visiting the country’s mountain gorillas provided more than $1 million in annual revenues, enabling the government to fund
anti-poaching patrols and employ local residents. Tourism is once again on the upswing, with hundreds of foreign visitors a month paying $250 each to see the gorillas.

• More than half of all international visitors to Nepal include a trip to at least one national park. Before civil strife reduced numbers, more than
80 000 tourists visited the Royal Chitwan National Park and 50 000 trekkers visited the Annapurna Conservation Area each year.

• The more than 60 000 visitors a year to the Galapagos Islands contribute in excess of $100 million to Ecuador’s economy.

(Source: State of the World’s Forests 2005.)

La valeur monétaire de la forêt suisse en tant qu’espace de détente

Les résultats de la présente étude fournissent, pour la première fois, des chiffres relatifs à la valeur récréative de la forêt suisse pour l’ensemble de la population du pays. D’une comparaison entre les conclusions de diverses études portant sur la fonction récréative de forêts locales, sur la valeur du paysage pour le tourisme et sur les dépenses touristiques en Suisse, il ressort que les présents résultats sont tout à fait plausibles.

Par rapport aux études menées jusqu’à présent, les présents résultats offrent quelques améliorations car ils reposent, d’une part, sur le comportement observable des individus (au contraire de l’évaluation contingente) et peuvent être considérés, d’autre part, comme l’appréciation exprimée d’une sélection représentative de la population suisse et non seulement des habitants d’une certaine région (contrairement aux méthodes des coûts de transport et aux évaluations contingentes appliquées à ce jour). Les résultats peuvent donc être interprétés comme une moyenne représentative de l’ensemble des types de forêt des forêts périurbaines, mais également de l’ensemble des types de forêts.

La méthode appliquée examine le comportement des usagers de biens publics lors de leur déplacement. Les frais de transport occasionnés par un déplacement en forêt à des fins récréatives constituent une limite inférieure du consentement à payer et de la valeur monétaire de cette fonction récréative, qui est à l’origine du déplacement. Les frais de transport englobent les dépenses liées au déplacement ainsi que le coût en temps nécessaire à ce déplacement. Pour l’ensemble des bénéfices récréatifs, le coût en temps (coût d’opportunité) est intégré dans les calculs relatifs au séjour en forêt.

À partir des coûts de la visite en forêt (séjour et déplacement) et de la fréquence, nous pouvons tracer une courbe de demande qui représente la relation entre le nombre moyen de séjours en forêt par an et les coûts de ces séjours. Elle permet de déduire l’utilité globale de la fonction récréative de la forêt pour un visiteur moyen. Cette utilité varie entre 1 670 et 2 422 francs suisses (frais de déplacement uniquement) et entre 1 178 et 3 066 francs suisses par an (frais de déplacement et frais de séjour), selon que l’on se fonde sur le concept d’utilité nette (gain de satisfaction) ou sur celui d’utilité brute (gain de satisfaction et dépenses réelles). En extrapolant ce chiffre à la population suisse de plus de 18 ans, l’utilité de la fonction récréative des forêts suisses varie entre 9,7 et 14,1 milliards de francs suisses par an (frais de déplacement) et entre 6,8 et 17,8 milliards de francs suisses par an (frais de déplacement et frais de séjour).

Nous sommes toutefois d’avis d’intégrer le coût d’opportunité du séjour dans l’optique du problème examiné (calcul de la valeur récréative monétaire de la forêt) et de nous baser par conséquent sur le montant de 6,8 à 17,8 milliards de francs suisses par an. (Source: Martin Baur, Walter Ott, concept, Claire-Lise Suter Thalmann, Office fédéral de l’environnement (OFEV), Division des forêts, 3003 Berne [Suisse])

Mondia whitei, a socio-economically important plant

Mondia whitei (Hook. f.) Skeels, locally known as mulondo, is consumed in Uganda and represents a source of local income. It is one of the few species commonly retailed on the streets of Kampala, another being Canarium schweinfurthii Engl. Mulondo is claimed to improve appetites, ease abdominal pains, alleviate nausea and is used to treat fever. Tubers are eaten raw, their taste depending on the age of the plant: young tubers are sweet tasting, whereas mature tubers have a slightly bitter taste.

The species is gathered and sold locally at the markets of Kampala and its suburbs. From Kampala it is redistributed to other towns and to the islands of Sesse. Many people, including harvesters, intermediaries, wholesalers and hawkers earn a living from the collection and sale of the plant.

No estimates exist on the harvest and trade of mulondo and we do not how much is harvested or how much is marketed. A recent rapid appraisal indicated that the species wholesales for between US$0.2–0.3/kg and retails at more than US$2/kg. The contribution of this species to socio-economic livelihoods needs further study.

Consumption and trade in mulondo are increasing. There are more consumers and traders now than ten years ago. Yet mulondo is a slow-growing plant that takes about 15 years to attain a tuber of sufficient size for consumption. The ecological implications of intense harvesting of such a slow-growing plant to satisfy this increasing demand are that harvesting is unsustainable and the species may be threatened. Indeed the plant is reportedly becoming much harder to locate in the wild. (Contributed by: John R.S. Tabuti, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer/Ethnobotanist, Department of Botany, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: +256 (0) 41 531 061;

Trade in nwfps

International trade in NWFPs

Tables 1 and 2 present total import values of raw materials, as well as semi-processed and processed products, for 1992 and 2002. All figures are in current rather than real US dollars, so that the growth in trade of most goods appears more than it actually is.

Most of the 28 commodities listed in Table 1 are unprocessed, although a few semi-processed products are included. For 2002, their total import value amounted to US$2.7 billion. Excluding the two commodities that were not coded in 1992 (mushroom categories 070959 and 071239), the total value of the remaining 26 increased from US$1.9 to $2.1 billion between 1992 and 2002.

Table 2 lists 34 commodities at different stages of processing, originating from both inside and outside forests, with a total import value for 2002 of US$7 billion. By comparison, the value of global imports of wood-based forest products for the same year, including fuelwood and charcoal, amounts to US$141.4 billion. Excluding the five commodities for which trade data cannot be compared because codes did not exist in the 1992 HS, the total value of trade of the remaining 29 increased from US$4 billion in 1992 to $6.2 billion in 2002.

Between 1992 and 2002, import values of the 55 commodities in the two tables increased by 50 percent, from US$5.5 billion to $8.3 billion. However, the total global import value of all commodities listed in the 1992 and 2002 HS, as recorded by trading countries, increased almost two and a half times, from US$2.24 trillion to $5.56 trillion. In addition, the share of global trade of the 55 commodities decreased from 0.25 percent to 0.15 percent, mostly as a result of a decline in the price of raw materials and because other materials gained in popularity.

Products that saw no real increase in their traded values are shea nuts, gum arabic, balata, gutta-percha, kapok, tanning extracts of quebracho and black wattle, Brazil nuts, sago flour and wickerwork. These originate in developing countries and were traded as raw materials. Commodities that saw their import values sharply increase are mosses/lichens and foliage for flower bouquets, truffles, other mushrooms, maple syrup, cork, mucilages and thickeners from locust bean (carob), essential oils not elsewhere specified, live animals other than farm animals, natural honey and raw reptile skins. They represent semi-processed products and are mainly produced and traded by developed countries (Europe, North America) and China.

(Source: State of the World’s Forests 2005.) Trade figures for 2004 will be given in the next issue of Non-Wood News.

TABLE 1. Global import values of key NWFPs for which HS code refers to a single product, 1992 and 2002

HS code

Commodity description

Global import value
(’000 US$)






Mosses and lichens for bouquets, ornamental purposes

9 352

25 476


Truffles, fresh or chilled

4 201

23 656


Mushrooms other than Agaricus, fresh or chilled


364 412


Mushrooms (excl. 071331/33) and truffles, dried


219 458


Truffles, prepared or preserved, not in vinegar

3 049

11 012


Brazil nuts, fresh or dried

44 344

59 848


Chestnuts, fresh or dried

109 958

184 663


Acorns and horse chestnuts for animal feed

1 216

7 380 *


Shea nuts (karite nuts)

5 155

5 136 *


Liquorice roots

33 455

24 310


Ginseng roots

389 345

221 435


Plants and parts, pharmacy, perfume, insecticide
use n.e.s.

689 926

777 980


Locust beans, locust seeds

22 395

40 239



25 286

25 653


Gum arabic

101 312

105 510


Natural gum, resin, gum resin, balsam, not gum arabic

92 755

96 535


Balata, gutta-percha, guayule, chicle and similar gums

26 726

13 605


Pyrethrum, roots containing rotenone, extracts

27 865

26 173 *


Bamboos used primarily for plaiting

37 562

50 054


Rattan used primarily for plaiting

118 987

51 327



11 920

2 826 *


Maple sugar and maple syrup

43 632

116 202


Palm hearts, otherwise prepared or preserved

16 082

67 514


Quebracho tanning extract

51 938

45 173


Wattle tanning extract

63 877

34 168


Oak or chestnut extract

8 653

917 *


Natural cork, raw or simply prepared

7 874

110 702


Abaca fibre, raw (Musa textilis)

15 221

20 374

* 2001 value (as no longer in HS 2002).
Notes: n.a.: not applicable as this code did not exist in the HS 1992 version. n.e.s.: not elsewhere specified.
Source: UN, 2004.

TABLE 2. Global import values of selected commodities for which HS code includes NWFPs among others, 1992 and 2002

HS code

Commodity description

Global import value
(’000 US$)





Animals, live, except farm animals

183 922

404 633


Ornamental fish, live

137 886

240 965


Honey, natural

268 184

657 612


Edible products of animal origin n.e.s.

80 389

175 770


Ambergris, civet, musk, etc. for pharmaceutical use

134 088

93 942


Foliage, branches, for bouquets, etc. - fresh


587 689


Foliage, branches, for bouquets, etc. - except fresh


103 998


Mushrooms and truffles, dried, not further prepared

134 205

286 661 *


Mushrooms n.e.s., preserved, not pickled


82 848


Nuts edible, fresh or dried, n.e.s.

222 915

403 243


Cinnamon and cinnamon-tree flowers, whole

95 626

81 332


Cinnamon and cinnamon-tree flowers, crushed or ground

8 531

18 606


Flour or meal of sago, starchy roots or tubers

18 063

10 060


Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, n.e.s.

62 297

161 428


Mucilages and thickeners, from locust bean, guar seeds

141 335

254 683


Mucilages and thickeners n.e.s.

138 579

374 674


Vegetable materials n.e.s., used primarily for plaiting

39 670

38 181


Vegetable materials for stuffing/padding


3 751


Vegetable materials for brush/broom making


23 519


Raw vegetable material primarily for dyeing and tanning

31 063

33 855


Vegetable products n.e.s.

63 859

127 767


Tanning extracts of vegetable origin

20 515

50 450


Colouring matter of vegetable or animal origin

152 082

384 133


Essential oils, n.e.s.

312 524

533 464



61 359

37 282


Gum, wood or sulphate turpentine oils

31 232

35 418


Rosin and resin acids

166 133

224 360


Reptile skins, raw

11 252

78 366


Raw fur skins of other animals, whole

44 025

88 240


Plaits and products of plaiting materials

17 198

38 927


Mats, matting and screens, vegetable plaiting material

215 957

196 784


Plaited vegetable material articles not mats or screen

44 732

120 719 *


Basketwork, wickerwork products of vegetable material

789 991

968 044


Walking sticks, seat-sticks, whips, etc.

10 769

44 369

* 2001 value (as no longer in HS 2002).
Notes: n.a.: not applicable as this code did not exist in the HS 1992 version. n.e.s.: not elsewhere specified.
Source: UN, 2004.


• The term is not included in international commodity descriptions or in product classification systems.

• Listings that describe or categorize NWFPs within commodities vary considerably, as does their aggregated value, since there is no agreement among countries, agencies or authors on terminology.

• International commodity nomenclature and product classification schemes are silent as to whether products originate from farms or the forest.

• Several NWFPs are traded as processed or semi-processed products or as ingredients in other commodities and cannot easily be identified.

• Changes in product nomenclature in international statistical systems – with codes deleted, merged, split or added – make comparisons difficult over time.

• Not all countries report accurately on their trade.

(Source: State of the World’s Forests 2005.)

Public-private partnerships and global trade in NWFPs

Poverty reduction stands out as one of the United Nations’ most important goals since its creation. However, several decades later, poverty still persists. UN agencies now recognize that working with the public sector alone is insufficient and over the past decade they have been actively encouraging the participation of the private sector in development initiatives.

Typically, this involves the private sector, civil society and the public sector with a UN agency or other developmental non-governmental organization (NGO) acting as a neutral broker to ensure that a target population benefits from a given activity. These activities could either be aimed at improving the general economic environment (e.g. advocacy on issues such as human rights and peace, and service delivery such as provision of electricity and water) or aimed at specific economic subsectors.

A few partnerships are known to have targeted the NWFP subsector, with the aim of ensuring improved livelihoods through sustainable market development for NWFPs. These initiatives include the following.

• The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is in partnership with Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical companies and rural households in China in order to secure availability of the medicinal plant Artemisia annua. This plant contains the active ingredient used in the production of the malaria drug Coartem. Because of high demand, plantations of A. annua have been established, thereby reducing reliance on wild plants. Novartis has also initiated planting trials in Africa with a view to diversifying the source of raw material. The World Health Organization (WHO) has played a major role by assuring tropical countries as to the effectiveness of the product and also ensuring continued demand for the Novartis product.

• The Shea Butter Production Initiative is a partnership between the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Government of Burkina Faso, a French cosmetic company (L’Occitane), a Canadian NGO (Centre canadien d’étude et de coopération internationale, CECI) and local partners. In the partnership, CECI played a major role in the technical aspects of product development and UNIFEM supported the development of producer groups and educated women producers about new market opportunities. Producer groups were also assisted in sourcing new outlets for their products, especially in international markets. Shea trade fairs have been organized annually and one of the participants, L’Occitane, now purchases directly from the women producers. The women have equally benefited from improved processing technologies, saving time and energy.

• In Ghana, a public partnership exists between a timber company (Samartex), landowners, tenants and state authorities, with the technical support of the German Development Service. The ensuing project aims to cultivate on a sustained basis former areas of forestry clearance for the purpose of preserving biodiversity and creating additional sources of income for the rural population. This Oda-Kotoamso Community Agroforestry Project is run with financial support from Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungs-GmbH. A major outcome has been the development of a patented method permitting the extraction of a natural sweetening substance from the fruit of an indigenous tree, Thaumatococcus daniellii, with high economic potential. A factory is currently under construction for large-scale production and at the same time, cultivation of T. daniellii is being encouraged.

While not exhaustive, these three examples illustrate a diversity of driving forces behind the partnerships. In the first case, the driving force is to produce an affordable malaria treatment for rural households. In the second, it is the improvement in the living conditions of women who are the dominant labour force in the shea trade. The Ghana case is driven by sustainable forest management. There are, however, a number of issues worth mentioning that could undermine the potential success of such initiatives with respect to poverty alleviation.

• In the case of T. daniellii and A. annua, there is an ongoing attempt to synthesize chemically the active substances that make these plants economically important, which could mean that initiatives focused on them may be unsustainable in the long term.

• There is much talk on the economic gains for participating populations. However, there is far less information available about the consequences on existing plant populations when demand rises suddenly.

• Another issue is that of supply. These plants all have a harvesting season of a few months in the year. The A. annua partnership is the only one that has attempted to address this issue by encouraging planting in different geographic regions. Furthermore, the shea project, in a drought-prone region, could mean that another potential uncertainty factor has been added to the long-term risks of the project.

(Contributed by: Okwen TenjohOkwen, Via Iberia 66, 00183 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


Rattan comprises about 600 species in 13 genera and is widely distributed in tropical Asia and the Pacific, as well as in Africa.

The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) estimates the global trade of rattan products to be in the range of US$4 billion and the domestic trade to be $2.5 billion. These figures show the importance of the rattan economy, which has become, in terms of export value, almost 40 percent of the $10 billion trade of primary tropical timber products covered by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). This huge economic importance results from the fact that rattan cane has long been used as one of the most popular materials for furniture. (Source: Chinese Academy of Forestry.)

(Please see pp. 44 and 73 for more information.)

Trade data on NTFPs in India

Trade data on NTFPs compiled from monthly statistics of the foreign trade of India (exports) prepared by the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Kolkata (India) reveal that the share of NTFP exports has been significant when compared with wood products.

NTFP exports from India were approximately US$154.18 million (Rs6 784 crore) from 2000 to 2001, as compared with the approximately $5.50 million (Rs242 crore) of wood products exported during the same year (Rs44 = US$1).

For figures covering the past eight years, please contact Ms Alka Shiva, President and Managing Director, Centre of Minor Forest Products (COMFORPTS), HIG 2, No. 8B, Indirapuram, GMS Road, PO Majra, Dehra Dun 248 001 (Uttaranchal), India. E-mail:

Trade measures – tools to promote the sustainable use of NWFPs?

An assessment of trade-related instruments influencing international trade in NWFPs and associated management and livelihood strategies.

Through the Norway Partnership Programme (NPP) “Forests for Sustainable Livelihoods”, funding was provided in 2004 and 2005 to enable FAO to analyse trade-related instruments influencing trade in NWFPs and their applications and impacts on poverty alleviation and sustainable forest management. The NPP complements and accelerates implementation of ongoing activities of the FAO Programme “Promotion and Development of Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs)”. TRAFFIC, an international NGO focusing on trade in wild plants and animals, was selected to carry out the global analysis because of its knowledge on and experience in international trade issues and their social, economic and environmental impact on sustainable forest management. Case studies on specific NWFPs in international trade were carried out in Cameroon, Bolivia and Papua New Guinea and the results of these studies were incorporated into the global analysis. A comprehensive report, summarized below, has been produced and is to be published in the near future by FAO.

NWFPs have an important role to play in the livelihoods of many rural communities, particularly in developing countries, where they provide a broad range of subsistence and commercial livelihood opportunities. While most of the trade is domestic, for some NWFP species and products, international trade is significant and generates income for resource harvesters and collectors as well as for many other actors in the commodity chain. The patchiness of information on trade in wild plants and animals makes it difficult to estimate total and relative levels of use for both domestic and commercial purposes, and this is complicated by the difficulty in distinguishing between subsistence use and trade for commercial purposes. The value of international trade, for which data are comparatively better, has recently been estimated at US$11 billion per year.

Effective NWFP trade faces practical challenges as NWFPs are often small in size, come from many different sites and a far larger range of species and products exists than for the two key traded resources – timber and fisheries. NWFP trade is, accordingly, far more complex and difficult to understand and regulate, since NWFPs cannot be successfully regulated as a uniform commodity.

International trade in NWFPs is regulated through a broad range of trade-related instruments that impose mandatory trade controls. Some of these, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and certain national species conservation measures, have their basis in the conservation of biodiversity, while others, such as import tariffs or phytosanitary certificates, are used for capturing revenue or for food health and quality control. There are also many trade-related instruments such as trade rules within the World Trade Organization (WTO) that are based on enhancing trade liberalization, covering a broad range of products in international trade. For these instruments NWFPs are not the key commodities being targeted and impacts are not always supportive of sustainable use and trade.

NWFP trade is also affected by voluntary trade measures developed by the private sector, such as certification and ecolabelling schemes that generally aim to achieve the dual aim of biodiversity conservation and the equitable distribution of benefits to the communities for whom such trade plays a key livelihood role.

Trade-related instruments, such as CITES, which aim to ensure biodiversity conservation, do not always achieve this goal and, in certain cases, have had a negative impact on the species concerned and on those whose livelihoods are linked to the trade. There are, however, a number of examples of win-win situations and there is increased recognition within the biodiversity conservation sector of the need to incorporate determination of livelihood impacts into decision-making processes for the regulation of trade in wild plants and animals.

Tariffs are used by both importing and exporting countries as a means of generating revenue and, normally in the case of developing countries, as a protectionist measure. Excessive tax rates can be counterproductive since they may encourage illegal trade in the products in order to avoid tariffs. This situation often results in a lower price being paid to collectors and harvesters.

While tariff-based trade measures can have an impact on trade in NWFPs, the impact of non-tariff measures is probably greater. For instance, phytosanitary controls can become a trade constraint where they cause delays and they are normally more onerous on small cooperatives and local communities that may lack the resources to meet the required standards. Non-tariff import controls can prove restrictive as well as complex and overlapping, creating unnecessary burdens on both enforcement personnel and traders. Furthermore, such a regulatory environment is frequently more open to exploitation.

Certification and labelling schemes have focused mainly on timber products; the certification of NWFPs has largely been available though forest-related certification schemes for the last five years. Consequently, it is difficult to assess the performance of certification for NWFPs since insufficient case studies and sources of information exist. In general, NWFPs are not considered ideal for certification programmes because the products are generally traded on a small scale in local markets and where they are traded internationally, it is frequently for a specific industry and on a relatively small scale. Therefore, only some of the more popular products are considered suitable for certification and related initiatives should be carried out on a case-by-case basis.

There are a number of areas where inadequate research has been carried out and insufficient literature exists to determine the impact of trade-related measures. These include international and regional trade agreements, regional and bilateral biodiversity-related agreements and tariff and non-tariff measures. In the latter case, the existing literature needs to be updated.

It is clear that NWFPs play a critical role in the lives of millions of people around the world and that trade-related instruments do have an impact, both positive and negative, on the sustainable use and conservation of NWFPs and on the livelihoods of those dependent upon them. Resource users, regulators, NGOs, policy-makers and all other stakeholders accordingly need to continue emphasizing the important role of NWFPs and advocating the adoption of trade-related measures that are supportive of their conservation and sustainable use. (Contributed by: Markus Burgener, Senior Programme Officer, TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa, c/o The South African National Biodiversity Institute, Private Bag X7, Claremont, 7735, Cape Town, South Africa. Fax: 27 21 797 7186; e-mail:;

PhytoTrade Africa: adding life to trade

PhytoTrade Africa is the Southern African Natural Products Trade Association, representing over 50 members across the southern African region in order to develop a viable, sustainable and ethical natural products industry.

PhytoTrade Africa is unique in the way it is tackling business, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and benefit-sharing in one practical package. It reaches marginalized producers all over southern Africa and seeks to combine both organic and fair trade standards.

Southern Africa is rich in biodiversity that has contributed to the fabric of domestic life for centuries. The demand for raw materials produced by PhytoTrade’s members is growing rapidly, as the results of generations of traditional use and refinement become globally recognized.

PhytoTrade Africa is a member of the International Federation for Alternative Trade. In addition, some members will achieve organic certification this year. While all members are signatories of the PhytoTrade Africa Fair Trade Charter, PhytoTrade is currently developing ways to apply these standards to the cosmetic industry.

All products from PhytoTrade Africa’s members can be defined as follows.

Wild harvested. Through extensive research, PhytoTrade Africa has chosen seven indigenous tree species, each producing fruits containing valuable constituents for the cosmetics industry. These fruits are naturally organic and have been sustainably harvested by marginalized rural producers for generations. By creating viable and ethical markets for these products, local value is added, and the traditional culture associated with their usage is secured. In this way, rural producers’ livelihoods and food security are enhanced and the trees are conserved.

From educated and empowered producers. PhytoTrade Africa’s members are supported by a dynamic management team that provides advice and training on a wide variety of key topics including quality standards; export procedures; market penetration strategies; business planning; certification criteria; health and safety issues; cosmetic formulation; oil processing; supply chain management; and regulatory environments. In addition, the welfare of each producer is considered with fair prices paid and long-term buyer relationships nurtured.

Within equitable relationships. The communities that harvest these products are organized groupings of rural producers who have a proven business capability to manage production. The roots of every product are firmly planted within these communities and for this reason all intellectual property and genetic rights are protected, and any patents that may arise from research and development are co-owned through the supply chain. Through the creation of coordinated partnerships linking producers, regional organizations, governments and industry, benefit-sharing as envisaged under the Convention on Biological Diversity is ensured.

Implications for the cosmetic industry

• Quality ingredients.

• Every ingredient has a rich African cultural heritage.

• Every producer has been fairly treated.

• Every material has been sustainably harvested.

• By purchasing PhytoTrade Africa products, customers will be providing support to communities that will reinvest the money for themselves, from paying for school uniforms, to school fees, or even a school.

(Contributed by: Dr L. A. Welford, Information Services Manager, PhytoTrade Africa, 9 Lezard Ave, PO Box BE 385, Belvedere, Harare, Zimbabwe. Fax (263) 4 723037; e-mail:;

Aggressive strategy for MFP exports planned

With competition in the minor forest product (MFP) export sector hotting up, a government-sponsored body has planned an aggressive strategy for tapping virgin markets.

The Shellac Export Promotion Council (SEPC) has launched an MFP information centre, which will build a community of stakeholders by bringing producers, traders, cooperatives and exporters under its umbrella and providing them with a platform to highlight problems vis-à-vis support measures needed for export development. To realize its goal, SEPC is also conducting market surveys and developing an export promotion strategy to nurture and groom new and upcoming exporters, promote international competitiveness and identify scope and export potentials.

India’s MFP exports at present amount to US$362 million, comprising only 4 percent of global trade. Global imports are estimated to be $9 billion. New and emerging global markets such as South Asia and some western countries in this sector remain largely untapped.

MFPs include bamboo, medicinal herbs, cane, honey, tamarind (both dried and seed), lac, shellac, amla, tendu leaf and others. According to a study, some 50 million tribals in the country depended on MFPs for meeting their subsistence consumption and income needs.

Northeast India is home to a wide variety of economically important NWFPs, including medicinal plants, with vast potential for exports all over the world. With 35 percent of India’s forests in this region, it is identified as the richest biodiversity habitat. However, for lack of focus and cohesiveness among growers, the trading community and government policies, this sector has not seen its optimum growth.

Major markets for Indian MFPs are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, China (Hong Kong SAR) and United Arab Emirates. (Source: Press Trust of India, 2 November 2005.)

Exports of Korean ginseng

Exports of Korean ginseng have been on the rise for the third year in succession. If the increase in exports continues, the Republic of Korea expects the amount to surpass US$100 million in 2005, a feat that has not been repeated since 1996.

The Korea Agro-Trade Corporation said that ginseng worth $33 million was shipped overseas between January and June in 2005, up almost 11 percent from the same period in 2004. Ginseng is widely consumed around the world for its effects in boosting vitality. (Source: Chosun Ilbo, Republic of Korea, 22 August 2005.)

High sales boost plant extract drug company

Phytopharm, which develops drugs based on medicinal plant extracts, said its sales had grown to £7.4million for the year ending 31 August 2005, compared with £1.1 million the previous year. Losses before tax had dropped to £3 billion from £6.8 billion.

Chief executive Richard Dixey said the highlight of the year had been signing a worldwide licence agreement with Unilever to develop a cactus extract to be used in slimming products. The hoodia cactus is used by the San bushmen of the Kalahari as an appetite suppressant. (Source: The Guardian, 3 November 2005.)

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