5 Institutional responsibility for non-wood forest products

5.1 Products covered within FAO
5.2 Products covered by other international agencies

The priority given by the Forestry Department to a specific NWFP must be subject to such products coverage elsewhere within FAO or by other organizations. In cases where referrals are made regarding specific products covered better elsewhere, mechanisms for coordination between FAO and other institutions in this area should be formalized.

5.1 Products covered within FAO

5.1.1 Products covered by the Forestry Department

Within the Forestry Department, the former Mechanical Wood Products Branch (FOIM) of the Forest Industries Division (FOI), was responsible for all departmental activities concerning harvesting, transportation, processing and marketing of forest products, including woodfuels. In 1987 FOIM initiated a number of activities focussed on NWFP. Among these activities, regional studies were conducted for Asia and the Pacific Region, the Mediterranean Basin and the Latin American countries.

These studies assessed the principal NWFP in the regions considered and identified areas for possible intervention. Particularly in the Asia/Pacific region, the study draws on nearly a decade of research on rattan, bamboos, mushrooms, sticklac and other NWFP sponsored by RAPA. Other regional and country-specific documentation is emerging from the Tropical Forest Action Planning exercise, whose products deal in some cases in considerable detail with NWFP.

Meanwhile, discussions were initiated in the Department with different technical units and joint activities involving FOI, FOR and JEUR (Joint ECE/FAO Agriculture and Timber Division) were undertaken for the organization of a Seminar on Products from Mediterranean Forests, held in Florence, Italy, 20-24 September 1988 (ECE/FAO 1988a).

Within the Forestry Department, the Forestry Planning and Institutions Service is responsible for Community Forestry. Their work is largely concerned with social factors relating to the use of forest and the organization of work within the community. This provides good background material, essential for the development of NWFP, and the response of the community to that development. Community Forestry and NWFP should collaborate closely over the selection and development of projects, as well as complementary research and institution building efforts.

The Forest Resources Division has an interest in sand-dune stabilization, an area for liaison regarding the selection of species, bearing in mind that for conservation reasons unpalatable species may be preferred. Also within the Division, the Forest Resources Development Branch is involved in sustainable management of the resources (including genetic conservation aspects), species selection, research on little-known local multipurpose species (biology and variation patterns etc.). This work is of great significance for NWFP, and greater collaboration should be encouraged.

The Wildlife and National Parks Officer of the Forest & Wildlands Conservation Branch is responsible for wildlife conservation through national parks and reserves, for the national training of wildlife personnel, and wildlife products. Technical aspects of processing, distribution and marketing of wildlife products should be considered a responsibility to be undertaken jointly with FOPN.

5.1.2 Products covered by other FAO departments

Related subjects that are among the interests of other Departments within FAO are shown in Table 5.1. These may be of major importance, such as the Plant Production and Protection Division's (AGP) understandable interest in browse species. The economic aspects of charcoal, gum, essential oils, etc. when advocating bush control for grazing (Little 1971) may be of secondary interest to AGAP. They are of great interest to FOPN, which must develop good working relationships with other Departments to ensure attention to these vital interrelationships.

Meetings with the Commodities and Trade Division (ESC), Crop and Grassland Service (AGPC) and Food and Agricultural Industries Service (AGSI) were carried out, beginning in 1987, to discuss possible areas of cooperation. Such discussions should be continued, extended to other Divisions, and lead to formal mechanisms for cooperation.

Table 5.1 non-wood forest products of interest to other departments within FAO

Department & Division




Forage and livestock management in plantations


Water resources, watershed management


Soil conservation


Forage, range management, Industrial crops, Horticultural crops, including bees


Agricultural industries; production and marketing

Food Policy & Nutrition


Community nutrition



Marine environment; mangrove management


Freshwater environment

5.2 Products covered by other international agencies

The mandates of the various international agencies which may appear to have some interest in NWFP are shown in Appendix A.

Relevant NWFP being covered by other international organizations are shown in Table 5.2 hereafter. As with other FAO departments, efforts should be made to identify overlap with particular species and subject matter interests with other international organizations.

Table 5.2 non-wood forest products covered by various international agencies



Liaison by FAO


Range management and browse species, soil conservation and dune stabilization. development on non-wood products

Collaborate in. selection and propagation.


Conservation of plant genetic resources

Choice of dry zone species and genetic resources in conjunction with FORM.


Agroforestry practices and species

Collaborate in selection and propagation of agroforestry species.



Collaborate where appropriate.


MAB Programmes - much basic environmental information on both flora and fauna.



Extraction and processing of fruit of Balanites aegyptiaca for edible oils and diosgenin.

Selection and propagation of high-yielding trees.

Transfer of technology for the genetic improvement of medicinal plants and their processing.



Medicinal plants plant molluscicides, , etc

Collaborate in selection and propagation of species.

aActivities restricted to Arab countries.
bStill technically part of FAO.