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Conifers are capable of growing under a wide range of ecological conditions and dominate large areas of the world’s forests. Conifer forests are especially abundant in the boreal and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but are also important components of many tropical and sub-tropical forest ecosystems in both humid and semi-arid zones. In 1995, almost two thirds of the world’s total industrial roundwood production came from conifers according to the statistics in FAO’s Forest ProductsYearbook. In addition to their huge wood production potential, many conifers are capable of providing a wide range of non-wood products that are of great benefit to human society. However, despite this, foresters have so far dedicated little or no attention to enhance the many non-wood uses of conifer forests.

The objective of this paper is to provide a global review of the non-wood uses of conifers and to discuss the many issues involved with their development. Problems associated with the sustainable management, harvesting and utilization of these products and compatibility or conflicts with timber production and other land uses are presented. Both contemporary and historical or traditional uses of non-wood products from conifers are discussed. Where possible, data on levels of production and international trade are given. The document also identifies opportunities for the special management of conifer forests and woodlands where either traditional or contemporary non-wood forest products are presently or potentially an important economic or social resource. The prospective audience for this publication includes foresters, rural development decision-makers, and conservation agencies in both developed and developing countries.

Through the use of this document, it is hoped that opportunities for promoting non-wood conifer products as an integral part of economic development and initiatives to alleviate poverty will be enhanced. In addition, the information provided should facilitate the incorporation of non-wood goods and services from conifers into forest management planning, valuation and implementation activities.

I have great pleasure to release this publication, in the hope that it will serve as a useful reference for all concerned with the sustainable development of non-wood uses from conifer forests in both developing and developed countries.

Karl-Hermann Schmincke
Forest Products Division

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