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Major non-wood forest products of Thailand


Introduction
Rattan
Bamboo
Use
Gums and resins
Medicinal plants and spices
Edible products
Insect products
Agarwood
Barks
Natural dyes
Conclusions and recommendations
References


Wanida Subansenee
Director, Royal Forest Department
Forest Products Research and Development Division

Introduction

In Thailand, minor forest products are defined as all products from the forest, excluding wood and other intangible products. This is equivalent to non-wood forest products (NWFPs).

Previously, NWFPs were ignored by policy makers because of the high revenue then derived from forest logging. After 1989, logging was banned in Thailand, and the issues of forest conservation and sustainable forest management came to the fore. Since them, NWFPs have played a more important role. The government has came to realise the direct and indirect benefits of NWFPs, their value to rural people for subsistence and incomes, their potential for bringing in foreign exchange and their importance in forest conservation.

Management of NWFPs has a legal framework in the Forest Act B.E. 2484 (A.D. 1941), a Royal Decree issued in 1987 and a 1989 Forest regulation. NWFPs are divided into 2 categories: protected and non-protected. Protected NWFPs include:

· wild orchids;

· aromatic wood (Dracaena loureirei Gaegnep), agarwood (Aquilaria sp.), Drumm. (Mansonia gagei) and sappan (Caesalpinia sappan Linn);

· charcoal;

· yang oil (gurjan);

· some barks, including Castanopsis spp., Walsura spp., Hopea spp., Cotylelobium melanoxylon Pierre, Persea spp., Litsea spp, Shorea spp., Artocarpus spp., Cinnamomum spp. and Platycerium spp.,

· gums and resin, including gutta percha, Pentace spp., jelutong, lacquer resin, and oleoresin;

· some palm leaves and some ferns, including Platycerium spp. and Osmunda spp.;

· rattans; and

· talipot (Corypha umbraculiferra).

Protected NWFPs are allowed to be collected or harvested, for subsistence needs, in small amounts (e.g., 10 kilogrammes of rattan, 30 kilogrammes of dammar, 10 kilogrammes of oleoresin, 1/2 kilogramme of agarwood and 100 talipots). But for trading, permits are required. Non-protected NWFPs may be collected without permits. Neither category of NWFPs may be collected in conservation forests.

Rattan

Rattan has been used for centuries in Thailand and is now famous worldwide. Its many uses include:

· Handicraft manufacturing, including hats, baskets, ropes and mats;

· Furniture;

· Some species (Calamus rotang, C ceasius and C. triginus) are used medicinally for treating rheumatism; asthma, diarrhea, snake bites and intestinal disorders;

· Edible fruits and shoots.

Annual quantities extracted and their value

In the past, all rattans, except C. caecuis, were non-protected NWFPs. However, in 1987, all rattans were brought under protection because over-exploitation had depleted the resource. Now, permits from the Royal Forest Department (RFD) are required for harvesting. Table 1 shows the quantity of rattan officially extracted from forests in recent years and its value in baht (US$ 1.00 = 25 Baht).

Table 1. Thailand's annual licensed rattan production and value

Year

Production (tonnes)

Value (million Baht)

1980

2,320

4.5

1981

205

1.5

1982

385

3.4

1983

2,924

35.0

1984

1,405

15.6

1985

2,588

30.3

1986

3,147

37.6

1987

5,960

74.5

1988

3,558

46.2

*1989

1,235

16.7

1990

1,098

15.2

1991

868

13.2

1992

417

6.5

Source: Forestry Statistics of Thailand.

* Logging permits closed

Collection and processing of rattan cane

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has established regulations for rattan harvesting, although since data on growth rates, harvestable age and cutting regimes of Thai species are very limited, the regulations are only temporary guidelines. They require:

· cutting only mature canes of at least 8 metres length;
· retaining half of the number of stems in each clump;
· clearing the areas under the clumps after harvesting;
· a felling rotation of 5 years.

Mature canes are recognizable because the leaf sheath has fallen. The best time for cutting rattan is from November to March. Sometimes pre-factory treatment is done before transport. Peeling and splitting of the cane is done with ordinary knives. In factories this is done by machine.

After harvesting, there are several possible treatment methods, including:

· Sun-drying until the moisture content is about 5-10 percent;

· Washing the canes in water, rubbing them with sand and coconut husk, and then leaving them to sun-dry (as above);

· Washing the canes in water, fumigating them with SO2, sun-drying them, washing them in water again, and rubbing them with sand and coconut husks;

· Immersing the canes in a solution of sodium hypochlorite for one hour, then washing them in water, followed by fumigation with SO2, and sun-drying;

· Boiling the canes in a mixture of diesel and coconut or palm oil for 30-40 minutes at 70-120°C, rubbing them with coconut husk, and sun-drying

Edible rattan

In northeast Thailand, people in some provinces eat rattan fruits and shoots. Normally, they collect the rattan from the wild. However, with the increasing depletion of natural forests, wild rattan is becoming very scarce and farmers are now starting to plant rattan for shoots. The most popular species is vaiyai (Calamus siamensis).

When the shoots are four or five months old, they can be harvested. The amount of shoots which can be extracted from each clump depends on the age of the plant. Harvesting begins in the second year, when only one or two shoots can be cut. More shoots can be cut each year, with more than 10 shoots able to be cut after 6 years or so. After each cutting, humus should be applied to encourage the growth of new shoots.

Economic aspects

Thailand imports substantial volumes of raw rattan from Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and elsewhere. Because rattan furniture exports were very promising, the quantities of imported raw rattan increased rapidly. In 1987, 18,433 tonnes, valued at 142 million baht (US$ 5.68 million), were imported. In 1988, the quantity went up to 2,939 tonnes, valued at 224 million baht (US$ 8.96 million). Subsequently, imports have declined. Exports of raw rattan from Thailand have generally been very low, peaking in 1989 at 331 tonnes, valued at 4.8 million baht (US$ 192,000). Exports and imports for recent years are given in table 2.

Chuntanaparb et al (1985) estimated that local production of about 5,000-6,000 tonnes per year would generate employment, in harvesting and transportation, of about 35,000 person-days and, for furniture production, about 400,000 person-days per year.

Bamboo

Bamboo is widespread in Thailand. In 1988, it covered about 5.5 percept (8,100 square kilometers) of the forest area (148,600 square kilometers). Wild bamboo mostly appears in mixed deciduous forests. Thailand has 60 species of bamboo in 13 genera (i.e. Arundinaria, Bambusa, Cephalostachyum, Dendrocalamus, Dinochloa, Gigantochloa, Melocalamus, Melocanna, Neohouzeaua, Pseudosasa, Schizostachyum, Teinostachyum, and Thyrsostachys).

Table 2. Exports and imports of rattans

Year

Exports

Imports

Quantity (tonnes)

Value (Baht)

Quantity (tonnes)

Value (Baht)

1987

5.0

654,000

18,443

142,237,000

1988

0.3

21,000

29,339

224,446,000

1989

331.0

4,810,000

27,188

164,063,000

1990

0.3

121,000

15,977

136,263,000

1991

7.0

753,000

17,048

97,542,000

1992

4.0

266,000

10,875

81,641,000

1993 Jan-Nov

3.0

488,000

11,156

86,142,000

Source: Royal Forest Department

Use

Bamboo culms are used for house construction, scaffolding, ladders, fencing, containers, pipes, toys, musical instruments, furniture, wicker work, partitions, house walls, fuel, and as a raw material for pulp and paper making. Edible bamboo shoots are a favourite in both fresh and preserved food. Bamboo serves as a living fence or wind break, and it can help prevent river bank erosion. The best-known species are Thyrsostachys siamensis and Dendrocalamus asper.

Thyrsostachys siamensis is mostly collected from natural forests. It is tolerant of drought and salty soils. It is used as a raw material for pulp and paper making. Due to strong demand, this species is now diminishing in occurrence.

Management

Bamboos are among the most useful of all rural plants. Proper management systems for natural bamboo forest are required to ensure sustainability of supplies. Although bamboo is plentiful nationally, areas of shortage and overexploitation still exist because of uneven distribution, inaccessibility, population pressures and localised industrial demand. Furthermore, cutting licenses can be issued without any resource assessment.

The most common species found growing in small plots along fences and around homesteads for domestic use are Thyrsostachys siamensis, Bambusa blumeana, Dendrocalamus asper and D. membranaceus. D. asper is a favorite species for bamboo plantations. It is easy to propagate, has a short cutting cycle, and produces many bamboo shoots. Management of these plantations is very well developed. The first bamboo plantation was established in Dong Pro Ram district in 1987. About 17,000 hectares of bamboo plantations have been established in 25 provinces under the extension program of the Department of Agricultural Extension. In addition to the bamboo widely grown in rural areas throughout Thailand, there are about 1,000 hectares of bamboo plantations which supply the raw material for the pulp mill in Khon Kaen. Comprehensive figures for bamboo plantations throughout the whole country are not available.

Production, exports and imports

Since 1939, the pulp and paper industry has required over 5 million culms each year. The natural forest is capable of supporting that demand, in addition to requirements for construction, and wicker-work.

The quantity removed under RFD permits is shown in table 3. Total harvests, however, are certainly higher because some species are not protected under the Forest Bill (so records are not maintained) and some harvesting of protected species goes undetected.

Table 3. Bamboo culms removed under permits from natural forests in Thailand

Year

Production (million culms)

Value (million baht)

1986

38

234.8

1987

41

365.8

1988

61

633.0

1989

54

583.1

1990

48

482.9

1991

52

518.2

1992

57

565.0

Source: Royal Forest Department

Table 4 shows that the quantity of bamboo imports increased rapidly as the forest areas decreased or were over-exploited. The quantity of exports is small.

Collection and processing

Bamboo harvesting should be carried out by selective cutting. One-year old culms should not be harvested. Cutting is generally done by using a small axe, machete, bill hook or saw. The first harvest is carried out during the third to the fifth year in bamboo plantations. There are up to five shoots in the first and second year for each clump. Mature culms are found at the centre of the clump. Two and three year old culms are cut for poles, construction work and wicker work. The culms should be cut close to the ground. Over-mature culms are too brittle while immature ones are not durable. Culm cutting is done from November to March.

Due to its ease of extraction, the horse shoe harvesting method is suitable for Thyrsostachys siamensis in natural forests. A three year cutting cycle is suitable in natural forests. At first harvesting, a single clump yields about 250 culms (or 11,100 culms per hectare), and the second cutting (three years later), will yield a further 230 culms of similar size (or 10,200 culms per hectare).

De-branching of culms is done immediately after cutting and the culms are cut to the required lengths at the site of the clump. The poles may or may not be bundled before being transported to the roadside or yard. It is important to keep the poles free from insect infestation and deterioration. Generally, at the yard, poles are graded according to size, length and defects. They are then dried by the sun, the air or in an oven. It is preferable to dip the poles into diesel oil to protect them from insect infestation. They are bundled before delivery.

Table 4. Exports and imports of bamboo, 1989-1993

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export values (Baht)

Import quantity (tons)

Import values (Baht)

1989

997

3,241,000

175

658,000

1990

567

1,174,000

206

1,514,000

1991

1,076

1,544,000

2,043

2,586,000

1992

666

2,114,000

3,771

5,630,000

1993 (Jan-Nov)

780

2,785,000

11,023

11,007,000

Source: Royal Forest Department

Shoot harvesting runs from May to October (the rainy season). Shoots can be collected from clumps daily, or twice a week. In bamboo plantations, Deadrcalamus asper plants of one to two years can give five or six shoots each year. Bamboo shoots can grow up to 120 centimeters within 24 hours in the rainy season. Export canning requires shoots weighing from 0.4 to 2.0 kilogrammes. About 20 percent of the shoot production is consumed fresh, while 80 percent is processed for canning. Processing involves the following:

· Shoots are trimmed at the top, boiled in hot water for one to two hours, then left in cold water overnight.

· They are debarked, trimmed smooth, then graded (by size).

· The graded shoots are packed in cans, then boiled for one to two hours and covered with water before sealing.

· Trimmed shoots can be sliced into small pieces and canned for home use.

Early in the cutting season, wholesalers buy shoots at the producing site, and take them to the market to sell to consumers. At the height of the season (September to October), farmers bring the shoots to sell at the canning plant or at the farmers' association office.

Gums and resins

Gums and resins are liquids which come from the inner bark or the wood of trees. They may be white, yellow, golden, brown, red or black. Gums are partly soluble in water, while resins are soluble in alcohol, but not in water.

Thailand has about 27 plants which produce gums and resins. They are mostly used to satisfy the subsistence needs of rural people. Different resins show great differences in their chemical composition and properties. For example, two important Thai resins are oleoresin, which is extensively used in the paper, synthetic rubber, printing ink and adhesive industries, and yang oil or gurjan, which is used for varnish and which comes from Dipterocarpus alatus Roxb. and other Dipterocarps. Besides these, Thailand has gambodge from Garcinia hanburyi Hook.f., Chinese lacquer from Melanorrhoea usitata Wall (syn. Gluta usitata), benzoin from Styrax benzoin Dry, gutta percha from Palagium obovatum Engler, jelutong from Dyera costulata Hook.f and Gum dammar from Dipterocarps.

Gum oleoresin

Gum oleoresin is tapped from the jung tree (Pinus merkusii). It is found in natural mountain forests about 700 metres above sea level, or on plateaus at altitudes of 100-200 metres. Its two products are:

· gum rosin, which is used in making paper, paint and adhesive, and in a few other industries; and
· gum turpentine, which is mostly used in making paints and pharmaceuticals.

Gum oleoresins are protected NWFPs. People may collect up to 10 kilogrammes without a permit from the Royal Forest Department. The tapping can be done all year, but summer is the most productive time. The traditional method of tapping is by cutting into the stem of the tree. The first cut should be 15 centimeters long, 10 centimeters wide and 3 centimeters deep. Resin can be collected from the same recut wound every seven days for a year. After a year, the wound should not be longer than 30 centimeters and its width and depth should be no greater than the first cut. Only trees with a girth of at least 120 centimeters may be tapped.

The technology of processing resin into rosin and turpentine is similar to that used in other countries. The processing plant at Ban Wat Chan uses a direct heating system to distill resin. The key point is to keep the temperature at 150°C for about four hours. The Chiang Mai plant uses a steaming process. The direct heating system loses about 10 percent of the yield, while the more modern steam system has a slightly higher yield.

Yang oil

Gurjan, or yang oil, is a protected NWFP which is tapped from Dipterocarp spp. It is used to make torches, as a preservative for wood and bamboo, in varnish and printing ink, to caulk boats and water-proof bamboo baskets (when mixed with powdered gum dammar), and to produce balsam oil for perfume bases.

Tapping yang oil involves making a hole about 30 centimeters wide, 30 centimeters high and 20 centimeters deep into the trunk of tree. The tapper collects the oil every 10-15 days. For each collection, a fresh fire is lit for two minutes to melt the hardening resin and stimulate production. Only trees with a minimum girth of 200 centimeters may be tapped.

Natural lacquer

In Thailand, natural lacquer is tapped from Gluta usitata Wall. (syn. Melanorhoea usitata Wall.). It is found in the north and northeast of Thailand, but the trees are tapped only in the north. Lacquer trees occur naturally in open forests, especially the evergreen and hill evergreen forests. They are rare in dry forests.

Natural lacquer is a protected NWFP. Permits are required from the Royal Forest Department to take more than 10 kilogrammes and people must follow the regulations of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives when they tap the trees. Tapped trees must be bigger than 80 centimeters in circumference.

Tapping is done by the traditional method, involving a V-shaped cut in the bark of the stem or a branch with a special iron chisel. A bamboo collecting cup and tube are placed at the base of the V-shaped cut. The wound should not be deeper than 2 millimeters. The latex is collected four times, ten days apart. After each collection, the wound is enlarged to continue the flow. Use of fire or any other stimulants for tapping is prohibited. Tapping is done from June to February.

The latex at first is grayish white, but turns black on exposure to the air. The raw lacquer is packed in a container and covered with wet paper touching its surface. Raw lacquer is mixed with turpentine, then stirred and filtered through a thin cloth or mulberry paper. It is then ready for use as varnish for lacquer ware, or for wood-work, water proofing paper, cloth or umbrellas and in decorating Buddhist temples. It is applied directly to the article to be varnished.

Exports and Imports of Gums and Resins

Table 5 shows that, for most years, more gums and resin (gum Arabic, gum dammar, gum benzoin, gambodge, and gum tragacanth) were imported than exported.

Table 5. Exports and imports of gum and resin, 1988-1993

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export value (Baht)

Import quantity (tons)

Import value (Baht)

1988

2,210

21,308,000

549

20,713,000

1989

2,378

20,767,000

5,742

63,048,000

1990

1,534

15,318,000

2,839

40,455,000

1991

1,874

18,271,000

2,101

37,354,000

1992

1,398

10,928,000

991

30,406,000

1993 (Jan-Nov)

11

1,028,000

1,651

36,186,000

Source: Royal Forest Department

Medicinal plants and spices

Medicinal Plants

Tropical forests contain trees, herbs, vines, shrubs and other plants with medicinal properties. These raw materials are exported or processed into modern and traditional medicines. Modern medicine involves drugs whose chemistry and pharmacology are known, and for which scientific trials have been conducted. Traditional medicine uses drugs from nature, which are used in their natural state or with little processing. Drugs are derived from various parts of plants, including fruits, flowers, leaves, stems and roots.

Thailand has many kinds of medicinal forest plants. Of 5,800 plant species indigenous to Thailand, 1 900 have already been studied.

Over 800 species are described in Thai traditional recipes. About 400 species are available in traditional drug stores and about 51 species are used in the traditional medicine industry.

The most important active constituents in medicinal plants are alkaloids such as reserpine, saponin, colchicine and peperazine. Some medicinal plants of commercial potential and used in traditional medicine are Rauvolfia serpentina, Gloriosa superba, Cassia angustifolia, Amomum krervanh, Dioscorea spp., Cartharanthus roscus, Strychnos nux-vomica, Diospyros mollis, Costus speciosus, Derris elliptica, Hydrocarpus anthelmintica, Calophyllum inopyllum and Stemona tuberosa.

Table 6 shows that the annual quantities of medicinal plant exports between 1988 and 1992 ranged from 1,393 to 3,379 tons, demonstrating an increasing trend.

Table 6: Exports and imports of medicinal plant products

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export value (Baht)

Import quantity (tons)

Import values (Baht)

1988

1,393

66,383,000

1,761

76,942,000

1989

3,072

133,369,000

1,640

81,553,000

1990

2,210

74,419,000

1,814

77,752,000

1991

2,009

103,097,000

2,182

110,291,000

1992

3,379

173,394,000

2,088

105,842,000

Spices

Spices are used as flavoursome food additives and to stimulate digestion. Most spices consist of essential oils and other constituents. Some important forest spices are Amomum krervanh, Cinnamomum iners and C. bejolghota. Some cultivated spice trees in the country are exotic species, including Eugenia caryophyllus, Apium graveolens, Cinnamomum verum and Myristica fragrans.

Table 7 reports on the recent spice exports and imports (cinnamon and cinnamon-tree flavours, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and cardamons). It shows that imports have increased in the past two years.

Edible products

There are over 500 species of edible natural plants sold in Thai markets. They include fruits, nuts, leaves, bark and shoots. In the rainy season in northeast Thailand, natural food can account for as much as half of the food consumed by some rural villagers. Because of their poor living conditions and insufficient food supply, some rural people rely greatly on food from the wild. Edible products can also bring extra income and foreign exchange and can play an important role in improving the economic conditions of rural people.

Mushrooms are important vegetables, which have earned a lot of money for the country. In Thailand, mushrooms are found in forests throughout the country, especially in the rainy season. Mushrooms were previously collected by forest dwellers and used primarily as food, with a few being traded. Some wild mushroom varieties are favourites, selling at high prices. For example, Termitomyces sp. and Russula delica are sold for 80-120 Baht per kilogramme (US$ 3.20 to 4.80).

Many edible mushrooms are also ectomycorrhiza, which help trees to take up phosphorus. Russula delica helps Dipterocarp species in this way. In two to three year-old Eucalyptus plantations, edible Amanita and Boletaceae species perform similar functions. Boletus griseipurpureus is associated with Acacia auriculaeformis, A. mangium and Melaleuca leucadendra. It is estimated that this mushroom can earn about 2,000-3,000 Baht (US$ 12.80-19.20) per rai for the plantation owner, while its selling price is about 40-60 Baht (US$ 1.60-2.40) per kilogramme. Thus, mushrooms can be both a cash crop, and a means of improving tree growth in plantations.

Table 7. Exports and imports of spices

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export value (Baht)

Import quantity (tons)

Import value (Baht)

1987

183

18,380,000

224

12,940,000

1988

378

38,347,000

166

9,112,000

1989

772

54,827,000

238

12,655,000

1990

846

51,124,000

227

14,457,000

1991

524

35,378,000

276

12,449,000

1992

312

34,567,000

351

17,714,000

1993 (Jan-Nov)

289

35,774,000

305

14,580,000

Source: Royal Forest Department

Data is unavailable on the export and import of edible forest products. Small quantities of natural vegetables such as Azadirachta indica, Melientha sauvis, Tiliacora triandra and Emilia sonchifolia are exported to Japan, USA, France, China and Macau, but bring in low revenue. These are mainly for small southeast Asian immigrant communities (Chuntanaparb, 1992).

Insect products

Lac

Lac cultivation occurs in India, Thailand, China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. In the past, people used lac for medicinal purposes and for dyeing silk and animal skins. Its properties as a resin became known during the 19th Century, and it is now one of the most important NWFPs.

Thailand is the second largest lac producing country after India. Production fluctuates greatly from year to year depending on weather conditions, although over the last ten years it has averaged 6,000 tonnes annually. The price of lac also fluctuates depending on production and the world market price (table 8). The quantities of lac imports are very small.

There are a large number of trees and shrubs which can host the lac insect. The major lac host tree in Thailand is the raintree (Samanea saman Merr). Other highly productive host trees are Zizyphus mauretiana, Albizzia lucida, Combretum guadrangulare, and Acacia glauca. Host trees are inoculated with six inches of stem, containing brood lac insects from another infested plant. This is tied on with string and covered with a straw basket as near as possible to the branch on which the young are to settle. After about a week, the brood lac is moved to another branch. The brood lac is left on the tree no longer than three weeks and then removed, to avoid over-infestation. The lac insect will complete its life cycle within six months. Then the lac can either be harvested or left on the tree for self-inoculation and a further six months' growth. Trees should be inoculated on a three-year rotation. Although lac can be cropped twice a year, in practice it is done only once, from November to January.

Table 8. Quantities and values of lac exports

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export values (Baht)

1987

7,685

287,184,000

1988

3,483

121,616,000

1989

6,505

151,760,000

1990

4,740

115,907,000

1991

3,692

106,627,000

1992

2,650

124,753,000

Bee products

Before 1987, honey was a protected NWFP, but subsequently it was moved to the group of non-protected NWFPs. There are four species of bees in Thailand, three of which are found in natural forests. These are the giant or rock bee (Apis dorsata), the hive bee (A. cerana), and the little bee (A. flores). In addition, A. meelifera has been introduced for beekeeping.

Before 1980, most honey was collected from natural forests with the permission of the RFD, since honey was a protected NWFP. During the 1 980s, beekeeping became more popular in Thailand. In 1990, there were about 77,000 hives in Thailand. It is estimated that national honey production from beekeeping is about 2,000 tonnes per annum. Honey is no longer a protected NWFP. Table 9 suggests that honey exports are promising. Honey imports have been relatively stable from year to year.

Collectors of wild honey from forests smoke the hive using a torch of fresh leaves and dry grass until the bees flee the hive. They then cut the honeycomb out with a knife. This method is used for A. dorsata and A. cerana, while a cigar is used instead of a torch for A. florea hives. After collection, the honey is extracted, filtered and bottled. Harvest time is from April to June.

Beekeepers remove honey combs from the colony and take them to a bee-tight room for uncapping and extracting. The uncapping tool is a sharp knife heated by hot water. The honey is extracted by centrifugal force. Extracted honey is stored for several days to allow air bubbles, bits of wax, and any fine particles to rise to the top. These are skimmed off before bottling.

Agarwood

Agarwood, the trade name for the aromatic, resin - permeated wood of Aquilaria spp. (family Thymelaeaceae), is a protected NWFP. The tree is a large evergreen, 18-21 metres tall and 1.5-1.8 metres in girth, which grows in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand.

Agarwood can be used in various ways. Low grade material is used to distill the volatile agar attar oil used in the perfume and tobacco industries. High grade material is exported to Arab countries where it is used as incense and, when powdered, in the manufacture of joss sticks. The ground wood is also used as a stimulant, a tonic and a calmative. It is an ingredient in several medicinal preparations against rheumatism, body pains and heart palpitations. The price of agarwood can go up to almost US$ 200 per kilogramme and the oil can bring as much as US$ 200 per 10 milliliters, depending on the wood grade.

Those collecting the wood from natural forests, fell the trees to examine them thoroughly, but most will yield no agarwood. However, a well-laden tree can provide several thousand dollars worth of agarwood. Such illegal action causes ecological damage and could lead to the disappearance of the trees. Against this background, much research was done to investigate the possibility of changing normal wood to agarwood. It has shown that wounds are an important inducer of agarwood, and fungi was also revealed to have some ability to increase the quantity of agarwood.

Table 9. Export and import of natural honey, 1987-1993

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export value (Baht)

Import quantity (ton)

Import value (Baht)

1987

745

11,111,000

130

3,842,000

1988

1,750

24,548,000

143

5,089,000

1989

704

9,290,000

146

5,586,000

1990

2,432

31,114,000

167

6,190,000

1991

1,206

16,966,000

232

8,794,000

1992

2,407

32,392,000

172

7,301,000

1993 (Jan-Nov)

2,108

28,233,000

182

8,544,000

Source: Royal Forest Department

Barks

Barks are sources of tannin and natural dyes and have been used medicinally and as spices. Some barks are protected NWFPs, and permits are required for harvesting those species, including Castanopsis spp., Lithocarpus spp., Quercus spp., Walsura spp., Hopea spp., Cotylelobium melanoxylon Pierre, Persea spp., Litsea spp., Artocarpus spp., Cinnamomum spp., Shorea spp. and Pentace spp. One of the most important is yang bong (Persea kurzii Kosterm), which produces kobuak. Kobuak is a binder compound composed of yang bong bark and saw dust which is used for making joss sticks. Exports and imports of kobuak are shown in table 10.

Bark is usually removed by using a sharp knife and peeling it along the trunk of the tree. The size of the wound should not be bigger than 20 centimeters wide, 80 centimeters long and 1 centimeter deep. Moreover, the spaces between the wounds should be more than 30 centimeters wide. After peeling off the bark, the collector should paint the wound with tar oil or an antifungus solvent to prevent fungi attack. The bark is then air-dried.

Natural dyes

While synthetic dyes produce bright, strong and durable colours, natural dyes produce softer shades associated with traditional arts and much valued by artists. The most important natural dyes used in cottage industries in Thailand are discussed below.

Annatto Tree (Bixa orella L. Family Bixaceae)

Locally known as kum sad, kum fad, kum ngo, sead, or chad, this plant produces a seed coat containing orange bixin (C25H30C4) and green bixol (C18H30O). Annatto dye is used for both food colouring and cloth dyeing.

The seeds of ripe fruits are soaked in hot water for a few days. Then the colouring matter is dried into a solid. For cotton dyeing, the annatto dye is dissolved in a sodium carbonate solution. The cotton is dipped in the dye for 15 minutes and then in a dilute acidic solution. For silk dyeing, the dye is dissolved in a sodium carbonate solution with an added alkaline. The silk is soaked in water for an hour before being placed in the dye. A stronger yellow colour results if a little tartaric acid is added.

Table 10. Exports and imports of kobuak powder

Year

Export quantity (tons)

Export value (Baht)

Import quantity (tons)

Import value (Baht)

1988

5,003

47,891,000

-

-

1989

4,190

41,134,000

94

330,000

1990

342

3,737,000

452

1,583,000

1991

4,087

45,059,000

16

58,000

1992

3,882

46,609,000

10

35,000

Sappan wood or False sandalwood (Caesalpinia sappan Linn Family Caesalpiniaceae)

The heartwood of this tree, known locally as fang, ngai, or fang som, gives a red colour and its roots produce a yellow. The wood is chipped and boiled in hot water for an hour. Sompoy leaves are then added and the whole mixture is reheated for 10 minutes. The liquid is then strained and a base solution added. The dampened cotton or silk is then put in and simmered for 30 minutes.

Ebony (Diospyros mollis Griff. Family Ebenaceae)

The fruits of this tree, known locally as Kleu or ma-kleu, give a black dye. The fruits are ground up, and the colour is extracted in an alkaline solution, which is then filtered. Wet cotton is dyed in this solution.

Gambodge tree (Garcinia hanburyi Hook. F., Family Guttiferae)

Resin from this tree, locally called rong, produces a yellow dye used for painting and cloth dyeing.

Catechu or Cutch Tree (Acacia catechu Willd. Family Leguminosae)

This tree is known locally as bae, si-siad khean, si siad leung, or si siad, and its wood gives a brown dye used for dyeing cloth.

Jack Tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lamk. A. integrifolia Linn. f syn. Family Moraceae)

The heartwood and roots of this tree, locally known as ka nun, ma ka nun, mak mea, nun, ka noo, payoisa, or nako, give a yellowish-brown dye. The chipped heartwood is boiled in water with the bark of Oroxylum inducim (one third by weight). Soaked cotton is dyed in the filtered solution. A greenish-khaki colour results.

Mai luang (Cudrania javanensis Trecul Macrula cochinchiensis Lour syn. Family Moracene)

This tree is locally known as kae lae, luang, kae kong, kae, nam kae, or chang ga tog. Its heartwood gives a yellow dye. It is cut into small pieces and the dye extracted after three soaking in hot water. The first extraction contains the strongest yellow color, and the third the palest yellow. Cotton is dyed in the third solution first, then in the second solution and finally in the strongest yellow solution.

Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria Linn. I. arrecta Hochst syn., I. suffrutiosa Mill, I. sumatrana Gaertn. Family Papilionaceae)

Indigo is locally known as kram, kam, or kram yom and is used to dye cloth. Bundles of leaves, stems or branches are soaked in water for two to three days and then removed. Lime and banana tree ash are then added to the solution, which is left for two to three nights. The resulting blue dye solution is filtered through fine cotton to get a clean blue dye solution. Cotton and silk are dyed in this solution.

Conclusions and recommendations

In order to integrate utilization strategies and plan for sustainable management of NWFPs, coordinated research of each of the products should be conducted. The products should be developed by:

· establishing plantations and new production zones;

· harvesting these resources on a maximum sustained yield basis;

· developing modern technology for processing, transporting, storing and utilization;

· extension and training activities;

· making market information available;

· conserving and protecting rare species; and

· coordinated planning and implementation.

To reach these goals, Thailand will need support from FAO and other donors to:

· establish a NWFP network in the Asia Pacific region, in order to exchange ideas, visits, and information;

· arrange training courses to upgrade the skills of researchers in the area;

· fund research work, extension and implementation activities; and

· provide funds to publish research results in English and local languages.

References

Chuntanaparb, L.P., and P. Sri-Anan, and W. Hoamuangkaew. 1985. Non-wood forest products in Thailand. FAO. Bangkok.

Chuntanaparb, L. 1992. Thai forestry sector master plan. NWFP Sub-team. Bangkok, Thailand.


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