The palm family is a large group of highly variable, predominately tropical forest plants, many with significant economic value. Therefore it is altogether fitting that a document be published to draw attention to this important plant family. A number of the palms species discussed herein exemplify the multipurpose character of certain tropical trees which merit special consideration for their full range of products rather than for only a single commercial product.
Palm products discussed in this document include beverages, foods, medicines, feeds, fuel, construction materials, industrial products and a wide range of handicraft items. Products are considered at the subsistence and commercial levels, and special attention given to the potential for further development of some palm products. A geographic approach is employed to focus on palms in the different regions of the tropics. The conservation status of palms is included as an integral and essential part of the discussions.
This document was prepared by Dennis V. Johnson, previously of the USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C., who is an authority on palm utilization, conservation and development. The document benefitted from the detailed comments of John Dransfield, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (UK).
It gives us great pleasure to release this document, in the hope that it will provide essential information so that palms can be afforded their rightful place in tropical forest management planning.
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
David A. Harcharik
Assistant Director-General Foretry Department