Previous pageTable of contents

Appendix 6


Appendix 6.1 Africa

Appendix 6.2 Asia - Continental

Appendix 6.3 Asia - Insular and the Pacific

Appendix 6.4 Latin America

Appendix 6.5 Donors/Development Assistance Agencies

Appendix 6.1



Many socio-economic problems relate to the use, development, and management of non-wood forest products (NWFPs). The theme paper clearly examines these and helps to ensure that NWFPs and their development are firmly placed in the context of livelihood systems, rather than viewing their development as merely a process of identifying products, developing markets, and improving processing technologies. The following group report starts from the discussion section of Arnold's paper, which highlights "four sets of issues that appear to be of particular importance", and examines these from an African perspective. Many of the following suggestions represent merely a shift in emphasis. In identifying key issues for Africa, the following are key factors:

Issues that Require Attention

Recognition of the Full Range of Benefits and Values of Forests and Trees, and not Exclusive Focus on Income Generation Potential

Addressing this would require documentation and valuation of subsistence use (including use of NWFPs for risk aversion), cultural and spiritual values, and ecotourism/recreation values. We need to understand the processes involved in the despiritualisation and deculturalisation of people. An analysis of related downstream economic activities (e.g. leather, meat, and bone industries ultimately derived from forage) and their attributable linkage to resource base should be incorporated in any valuation.

Current analyses of value of NWFPs still tend to view people as mere links in a technological process. We should increasingly empower local communities through participatory methodologies.

More attention needs to be focused on the methodological and conceptual framework for valuation, and ways to develop inventories of NWFP resources.

Equitable Access to NWFP resources

Arnold's paper (Appendix 4.1.1) discusses the need to identify the beneficiaries of commercialisation, stressing the need to identify differences based on wealth status and gender. The Group further recognised the need to identify inequities that arise due to ethnic and rural-urban divisions. For example, development of NWFPs in Botswana could benefit the Bakalagadi, to the disadvantage of the San!; many other examples of conflicts exist between pastoralists and settled farmers.

Diminishing Access to Supplies

We should not only recognise logging and agricultural expansion as driving forces determining NWFP supply, but be aware that in Africa, droughts cause cyclical patterns of supply.

In the face of diminishing resource supplies, increasing amounts of NWFPs are derived from on-farm sources. While this is also true in sub-humid and semi-arid systems, it occurs to a lesser extent than in humid systems.

Tenure and Control

Due to the predominance of common property regimes in much of Africa, this set of issues contains some of the most important ones to be considered in developing NWFPs. The relationship between commercialisation and its potential negative impacts needs to be explored, as the breakdown may often lead to uncontrolled extraction, and an emerging conflict between extraction and conservation.

The theme paper generalises that breakdown of common property regimes often leads to privatisation of the resource, with much of NWFP production then taking place on-farm or in bush-fallow. While the privatisation trend may occur, the sustainable level of supply from on-farm sources is probably lower in semi-arid and sub-humid systems. Furthermore, the trend to privatise is not universal: several cases document a renewed interest in community management. For example, communities in Ghana have attempted to reassert their control over forest patches outside government forests; likewise, communities in some wildlife areas have developed strong institutional arrangements to control wildlife resource.

Regulation and Support

Much of Arnold's paper looks at regulation and support mechanisms to improve the income-generating capacity of NWFPs. The Group agreed that such mechanisms have to be considered to ensure the sustainability of NWFPs for subsistence and risk aversion.

At a broader level, it is necessary to understand the macro-economic framework within which NWFPs are utilised and commercialised, including:


A number of elements that need stressing in the African context include, among others, the following:

In general, we should beware of a product focus or bias; there is need to ensure that the discussion and recommendation take into account the socio-economic context.

Information Needs

Financial and Infrastructural Requirements



Adding Value Locally

In addition to the relevant points above, the Group noted:


The African continent has seen a steady decline of its forest cover. An estimated 4.1 million ha of forest (about 0.7 percent of the land area) disappeared just in the period 1981-90. This rapid decline of all forest types will have serious implications on strategies for sustainable management and development of NWFPs.

Environmental Aspects

Key Problems and Recommendations

Recommendation: Formal forestry training should recognize the considerable traditional knowledge about the multiple functions of NWFPs within the forest environment. Likewise, research on the environmental impact of NWFP harvesting should proceed in cooperation with the harvesters and processors themselves.

Recommendation: Techniques for measuring the environmental impact of NWFP harvesting (for example, the "willingness to pay approach") need to be refined and applied to improve the African countries' existing environmental impact assessment procedures.

Resource Management and Development


It is essential that African institutions involved in R&D be strong and can act flexibly in response to changes in international markets, natural disasters, dramatic developments in the macro-economic environment and changing needs of local communities.

The Group also notes that progress in NWFP development has been slow and uneven. Very poor linkages exist between researchers, policy-makers, managers and communities.

Policy and Legislation

The Group stressed again the importance and fundamental role of policy, legislation and regulations. These should be inspired by local practices, cultures and needs; their formulation should benefit from the inputs of various sections of the society. National and regional level review exercises of existing policies to assess their support to local community participation, equity in participation, land tenure aspects, etc., are needed; these reviews should be conducted with grassroots participation, and with due sensitivity to African cultural and spiritual heritage (e.g. using customary rules as a basis for policy), and giving adequate emphasis for environmental considerations in policies (e.g. ensuring environmental impact measurement of activities).

Research and Development

The nations of Africa need strong research organisations, but instead they are characterized by understaffing, unmotivated personnel and high turnover. The fundamental problem is poor salaries and low research budgets. National governments and donors need to come up with creative mechanisms to ensure that good scientists remain within national research institutions and can devote themselves fully to their work. The Group recommended that research budgets be derived partly from export earnings of forest products, fixed on a percentage basis; also a percentage of the budgets of development projects could be earmarked for applied and adaptive research to directly support development activities.


Regarding training, the Group recommended that national training policies be developed, to ensure an appropriate mix of skills. Wherever possible this training should be done in-country or within the region.

Cultural and Spiritual Heritage

There has been a despiritualisation of African culture. Africa now has a new cadre of scientists with little links to realities in rural areas and to African heritage. The number of African anthropologists are limited, to be able to impregnate social valves in the scientific and technical realm. A number of reorientations and adjustments are needed which are relevant to the development of local resources, products and benefits responding to real needs of societies. Hence, i) researchers should maintain strong linkages with real life and conditions at field level; ii) local knowledge, craft/skills and values should be incorporated in science and development.

Political Will

The Group noted a general lack of political will to implement policies that are widely accepted as socially just and environmentally friendly. The Group recommended that i) scientists provide more easily-accessible information materials to politicians; ii) that all aspects of development and research be depoliticised; iii) scientists, especially those heading research institutions endeavour to better reach politicians to promote their support to research agendas and programmes; and iv) donor agencies devise mechanisms to ensure that their activities are politically correct, and well focused on the real needs of societies.

Institutional Frameworks

Appendix 6.2



An adequate database does not exist on socio-economic benefits of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) in the region. There is a need to develop a system of collecting information on resource extent, quality, uses, and values.

Government policy needs to be reoriented towards sustainable management of NWFP resources by:

A systems approach should be adopted in the analysis of issues and approaches to NWFPs development.


This issue needs to be addressed at four levels: At each level the specific issues identified and possible initiatives recommended to deal with the issues are as follows:


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives


Key Issue Proposed Initiatives


Key Issue Proposed Initiatives

End-Users and Related Agencies

Key Issue Proposed Initiatives


Key Issues Proposed Initiative

Tenurial Issues

Key Issues Proposed Initiative

Government Regulations

Key Issue Proposed Initiative


Primary production, processing, marketing and trade are interlinked activities. There are variations in methods of processing and approaches to marketing and trade in the region. There are also large inter- and intra-regional markets for NWFPs.

In general, processing and marketing activities are not very organised. Primary producers are not receiving due benefits.

Information and technology flow among the three stages - gathering/collection, processing, and end use - are not adequately developed.

Inadequate policy environment affects the processing, marketing, and trade of NWFPs.

Key issues identified and initiatives proposed are the following:


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives - adaptation of simple technologies;

- organisation of information systems and dissemination of knowledge at all levels;

- quality control and certification in accordance with types of markets;

- appropriate environmental guidelines to promote environmentally suitable processing and monitoring activities;

- organised supply of raw materials at the local level through balancing of government policies concerning in situ and ex situ production/conservation systems.

Markets and Trade

Key Issues Proposed Initiatives


Almost all forests in continental Asia are being utilised at varying levels of intensity. Changes in forest management will therefore have implications on community welfare and sustainability.

Resource management for NWFPs should first be oriented toward meeting local needs; once these are met, commercial prospects can be explored. For large-scale commercial use, the focus needs to be ex situ cultivation.

The objective of NWFP resource management should be sustained multiple use; and management systems should be geared toward this objective.

Wildlife-based NWFPs are relatively less important in this region. However wilderness-based services such as ecotourism and biodiversity prospecting remain important and have considerable development potential.

Unprecedented pressures on forest resources, caused due to growing population, often lead to over-harvesting and unsustainable uses. Experience has shown that resource management through participatory approaches can greatly help integrated and sustainable management of NWFP resources.

Key issues identified and proposed initiative are given below:

Resource Assessment

Key Issues Proposed Initiatives

Resource Management

Key Issues Proposed Initiatives

Environmental Dimensions

Key Issues Proposed Initiatives


In most of Continental Asia, policies, instruments for their implementation, and related institutions are not conducive to sustainable utilisation of NWFPs. A fundamental re-orientation in policies, strategies, instruments, and institutions from the highest to the lowest level is needed to address the many issues raised.

Legal and socio-economic dimensions of NWFP development need to be incorporated in this re-orientation.

Research, education, training and extension need to be integrated in formulating policies and building institutions at operational levels. Action-oriented research needs special emphasis.

NWFPs need to be recognized as one element of an overall strategy for rural community development. Spatial priorities need to be set for NWFP development, emphasising marginalized regions (e.g. mountains and areas inhabited by ethnic minorities).

Key issues identified and initiatives proposed are as follows:

Institutional Aspects

Key Issues Proposed Initiatives Initiatives proposed to be taken by different institutions/organisations are given below: Government Private sector Local organisations and community groups NGOs - training in micro-level planning, technology transfer, and extension support; - training in conflict resolution

Defining Non-Wood Forest Products

Recognizing the urgent need to incorporate NWFPs in the System of National Accounts, and that no definition can be complete and perfect in a dynamic and diverse context, the Group proposes the following definition:

Non-wood forest products are primarily non-wood goods and services of biological origin derived from forest and allied land uses. Regardless of the definition that may be adopted, the Group feels that periodic refinement of the definition will be needed to address the changing context.

Interest groups and agencies may adopt other definitions as appropriate to their context and requirements.

Regarding a classification system, the Group suggests that the framework proposed in the related theme paper by Chandrasekharan may be adopted with provision for periodic revisions.

Appendix 6.3



The Group recognised that the non-wood forest products (NWFPs) sector is comprised of two major sub-sectors:

It is not uncommon to have a combination of both subsistence and commercial exploitation for a particular product.

Two major issues of concern for these sub-sectors are resource sustainability for both subsistence and commercial exploitation and, equitable sharing of returns from commercial activities associated with NWFPs production and trade.

The overriding issue underlying many of the equity distribution and resource-related problems associated with the NWFPs sector is the low involvement of households and local communities in decision-making about resource utilisation.

While some of the identified issues discussed below may appear superficially to be outside the socio-economic aspects of NWFPs, the Group felt that these issues affected the socio-economic environment of the communities involved. Key Issues

There is inadequate appreciation of the commercial and cultural values of NWFPs, due to inadequate data. The inability of local communities to realise a better share of proceeds for some of their products may be due to a lack of price information. It is not uncommon for government personnel to be unaware of prevailing prices for these products. Proposed Initiatives It should be ensured that local communities are not displaced as a result of larger and more powerful plantation activities.


Most NWFP activities occur in the rural communities sub-sector, and are generally confined to collecting or harvesting. There is now a desire and willingness to involve these local communities increasingly in processing, wherever appropriate. Obstacles to this are that producers are often widely scattered, and most do not have marketing skills. Local communities are generally price takers and have little influence in the marketing of their products.

Often there is a lack of clear policy, strategies and guidelines for developing NWFP processing industries.


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives

Marketing and Trade

The Group considered several inter-related aspects. Key Issues - Clear guidelines in trade of NWFPs are lacking. It is also important to note that the development of NWFP trade does not normally affect resource sustainability, adversely.

- There are no agreements between producing countries for regulating supplies and prices in existence at present. These agreements might ensure that producers are not totally vulnerable to the dictates of external markets.

Proposed Initiatives


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives

Appendix 6.4



The socio-economic importance of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) lies in the actual and potential values of these products in satisfying the livelihood needs of the people, in particular, of local and indigenous communities. Key Issues

Proposed Initiatives


The key to the success of NWFPs as an important contributor to increased standards of living for rural communities, as well as to national economies, lies in increasing the potential for adding value to these products through good processing technologies and marketing channels, while keeping sustainable management as a priority for resource conservation.

Local NWFP markets are generally characterized by the prominence of food products, medicinal plants and cultural and spiritual products that do not require further processing. These are the markets that require more support.


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives


Key Issues Proposed Initiatives


There is an urgent need to sustainably manage forests for multiple uses, and to reverse the deforestation process that has reached a yearly average of 7.3 million ha in the region, with serious loss of biodiversity. Key Issues

Proposed Initiatives


Appropriate policies, planning, legislation, human resource development at all levels, and administrative support are fundamental for development of NWFP activities. These are achieved basically through good institutions and guidance.

Combining local value addition, rational resource use, and initiatives for conservation is extremely complex. It requires the cooperation among governments, intermediary institutions, communities, private enterprise, and academia, as well as incorporation of various sectors of society from both developing and industrialized countries. Key Issues

Proposed Initiatives

Appendix 6.5



The following are the recommendations of the Group relating to socio-economic benefits:


The objective of developing NWFPs is to commercialise new products, promote the sustainable management of forest resources (including conservation of biodiversity), and/or maintain and improve the welfare of communities living in or near forests. There are different stakeholders and therefore we cannot define a single set of objectives; one stakeholder's goal may conflict with that of another.

Processing has the potential to increase rural income by enhancing the unit value of products and therefore make producers less dependent on subsistence. It can also decrease the pressure to over-harvest primary resources. Resource exploitation through processing and marketing has the potential to benefit or damage people and/or the environment.

Unregulated marketing alone may not guarantee sustainable forest management and the equitable distribution of income from NWFPs. Other mechanisms may be needed to address these multiple objectives.

In many countries existing trade and environmental policies give priority to forest conservation. These may intervene to restrict current and future access to production and marketing of NWFPs. Governments may not, therefore, recognize the need for marketing since they may run counter to conservation objectives.


The following are important requirements for development of NWFP industries.


Issues related to marketing can be dealt with separately for local markets and international markets, even though they have several commonalities. Following are some of the considerations to improve local markets for NWFPs.

Some of the considerations relating to international markets for NWFPs are the following:


In general, environmental conservation is a matter of maintaining the characteristics and functions of the ecosystem. We have to be aware of the existing balance when moving to commercialization. Collecting of NWFPs may add value to the forests, thereby contributing to conservation and protection of forests from impacts of shifting cultivation, since farmers can draw on NWFPs and reduce the need to clear more forest for farming. Over-collection of NWFPs may disrupt ecological systems but collection may be less disruptive than activities which it forestalls. We should consider the seasonality and year-to-year variations in harvesting of NWFPs as well as what happens to the forest environment and the people when there are natural calamities (e.g. crop failures).

In discussing the environmental dimension of NWFPs, the Group noted that resource accounting is a very difficult topic, and the benefits obtained may not always justify the costs. Accounting of natural resources is very important in influencing policy-makers and should not be underestimated, but one must consider who will use the data and how it will be used. It is important to develop and agree on standard methodologies that include environmental benefits, water supply issues, opportunity costs for recreation, etc. Choice of production systems for NWFPs can influence water, soil, plant nutrients, and other environmental impact conditions. While methodologies for resource accounting exist, getting reliable data is very difficult. Research on methodologies should focus on cost-effective ways to obtain data.

There is a need to make inventories of resources and determine what levels can be harvested. This will vary from one setting to another, so it is impossible to generalize.

The Group made several recommendations, to ensure sustainable utilisation of NWFPs consistent with environmental considerations:

From the point of view of resource management and development the Group noted that different actors are involved in resource management. It is necessary to have a clear idea as to who are the resource managers.

Accordingly, objectives will vary ranging from conservation to economic gains. The classifications based on products blur this distinction. When it comes to conservation, a Brazil nut grown in the forest is different from a Brazil nut grown in plantations, even though as a product one is not distinct from the other.

Buffer zones are an essential way of maintaining peoples' links to the forest. There are not many positive experiences with buffer zones and the lessons tend to be bleak in cases of great population pressure, or where people previously held tenure to the "buffer" land. But experience remains limited. All systems have flaws; in some cases buffer zones work, but in others, they have contributed to resource depletion. Also if too much emphasis is placed on NWFPs without attention to timber, communities may not benefit.

In India, the development of joint forest management has proved a very good model. The state retains ownership of the forest resource, but local communities receive 25-30 percent of the wood harvested, and 100 percent of NWFP harvests. In view of increasing forest scarcity, this programme shows a policy shift away from revenue emphasis towards a priority of forest maintenance through community involvement.

Some of the recommendations of the Group, related to resource management and development are the following.

Population Pressures Conservation Biodiversity Production Cost Benefit to community
Extraction from natural forests 
(low management)
Extraction from modified forests (fallow)
Extraction from heavily managed agroforest
Extraction from cultivated systems
Extraction from monocrop cultivated systems

The dichotomy of objectives (production vs. conservation) causes confusion. In viewing the interactions along the continuum of NWFP extraction and cultivation practices, we need to consider both conservation and human economic needs. Developing NWFPs as plantation crops does not necessarily reduce pressure on natural forests.


While discussing definitions, the Group noted that the definition of NWFPs proposed in the theme paper by Chandrasekharan and discussed by this Consultation is primarily for trade classification purposes, targeted at the system of national accounts. The use of the term NWFPs does not preclude the use of other terms. However when using other terms, such as non-timber forest products (NTFPs), appropriate definitions need to be attached.

The Group recognized that the definition of forest does not explicitly incorporate the term ecosystem. It should incorporate not only plants but also animals, insects, micro-organisms and other biological components of the forest.

The Group further considered specific institutional aspects influencing the management and utilisation on NWFP resources.


The major research issues considered by the Group were: The Group made the following recommendations to address the issues:


With regard to the information needs for developing NWFPs, the Group made the following observations:

Human Resource Development

In the area of human resource development for NWFPs, the Group highlighted the following considerations:


The objective of activities related to NWFPs is conservation of forests and generation of socio-economic benefits. This needs to be stressed in policy statements.

There is need to distinguish between internal policies, that can be changed among sectors involved in NWFP/forestry and, external policies that influence the NWFP/forestry sector (e.g. land use planning, etc.) and to look at how macro policies (not specific to forests and NWFPs) are affecting NWFPs; also to consider what is relevant and possible.

Policy is based on information and knowledge. Therefore, who makes policy and who provides information to the policy-makers, are important considerations. It is necessary to raise awareness of foresters on the need to influence politicians and to raise their understanding of NWFP issues. This calls for strategic alliances.

Policy development is an important issue; consultations with all parties to be affected by the policy is essential.

More resources are to be devoted to understanding the linkages among policies and policy implementation instruments, inside and outside the forestry sector, and their impact on issues relating to NWFPs.

The Role of Agencies and Donors

The Group considered that donors and development assistance agencies should avoid duplication of efforts and cooperate more. More coordination is needed among organisations in order to maximize the availability and use of donor funds. Also more up front work is needed to make sure that project activities do not duplicate previous work or other ongoing work by other donors or in-country programmes. Very little donor support or loans are now available for NWFP development and related capital investment. There is need for special arrangements with regards to loans for developing NWFPs and for more support from donors.

In these regards the Group made the following recommendations:

Previous pageTop of page