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Moving towards the development of a research network of tropical fruit trees in Asia and Pacific
Non-wood forest products in forestry education
Los biocombustibles y los productos forestales no maderables


World Health Organization guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines
Maastricht declaration of the world congress on medicinal and aromatic plants for human welfare
International society for ethnopharmacology
Pharmel - a database on African medicinal plants
Natural products network for West Africa (NAPRWA)
Pilot-scale polyfunctional processing unit for plant extracts
Medicinal plants network in Asia
Asia-Pacific information network on medicinal and aromatic plants (APINMAP)
Tropical forest medicinal plant programme in Indonesia
International network for bamboo and rattan
Bamboo information Centre-India
Bamboo information Centre-China
Rattan information Centre-Malaysia
Centre of minor forest products, Dehra Dun, India
Tribal cooperative marketing development federation of India limited (TRIFED)
Tropenbos and non-wood forest products
Conceptual business plan for establishing a special forest products processing plant
Jackfruit survey
Potential of non-timber forest products (NTFPS) in sustainable natural forest management in Amazonia
Crop substitution for coca leaves in the Andean region
Arab association of beekeepers
Feasibility of non-wood pulping by hydrogen peroxide alkali process
Harvesting nature's diversity








Non-Wood News 1


March 1994


The purpose of Non-Wood News, as an information bulletin, is to provide readers with useful information and insight about the promise that the future holds in the field of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) and the issues to be addressed with regard to their sustainable development.

As readers are fully aware, the value of forests includes direct contributions in terms of goods and services and indirect contributions in the form of soil conservation, carbon sink capacity, recreation and amenities, watershed stability and protection of species and genetic diversity. Increasing complementarity in the direct and indirect uses supports optimization of forest values on a sustained basis. NWFPs in general have higher attributes of complementarity.

The use of NWFPs is as old as human existence. In subsistence and rural economies, the role and contributions of NWFPs were crucial, because of their richness of variety, as sources of food, fodder, fibre, fertilizers, herbal potions, organic construction materials and cosmetic and cultural products. They supported village-level artisanal and craft activity. Because of their heterogeneous nature, with few exceptions, the NWFPs remained of local importance. Following the industrial revolution, when wood and wood products became a major commodity of trade, and forest management emphasized timber production, NWFPs were grouped together as minor forest products. This resulted in benign neglect of most NWFPs, reflected in a serious lack of information on almost all aspects and consequent considerable setbacks to their development.

NWFPs have recently re-emerged from relative obscurity. There has been increasing awareness about their importance as a result of many factors such as the dependence of rural communities on NWFPs, the new market preference for natural products, concern about the conservation of forests and their biodiversity and the occurrence of many non-wood products among the biological richness and ecological complexity of natural forests. The comparatively high value of NWFPs, on a unit volume or weight basis, and their implication in integrated management and conservation of resources are also now being better understood.

Furthermore, NWFPs can provide raw material to support processing enterprises such as those of rattan and bamboo furniture, essential oils, resin and pharmaceuticals. Small-scale units of these can be linked to central refining and further processing units. Some NWFPs are internationally traded commodities used in food, flavourings, perfumes, medicines, confectionery, paints and polishes.

Wood and non-wood products are not mutually exclusive. Under natural conditions, non-wood products can be managed with wood in an integrated manner, thus increasing overall productivity. Some can also be grown as pure or mixed crops and under agroforestry systems. Thus, from an erstwhile minor status, NWFPs are poised to become very important products of forests.

However, authentic information on NWFPs is generally lacking and their development calls for considerable promotional efforts. The development of NWFPs is a challenging field, because it involves a fundamental change in approach to ecological, silvicultural, socio-economic and trade issues associated with forestry. Through Non-Wood News we shall strive to serve the sector in meeting the challenge, to the extent possible, by facilitating improved availability of vital information.

We look forward to receiving readers' views as to how Non-Wood News can most usefully meet their needs.



On the occasion of the first issue of Non-Wood News, we wish to pay tribute to the memory of the late Sudhakara Rao, a very dear and respected colleague, who met sudden death in the Bombay bomb blast in March 1993. At that time he was working for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as Senior Programme Adviser of the Forestry Research Support Programme for Asia and the Pacific (FORSPA). Earlier, between 1980 and 1991, he had worked as Regional Forestry Economist and Regional Forestry Officer at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAPA).

Sudhakara Rao's commitment to the cause of non-wood forest products was unequivocal. At the Expert Consultation on Non-Wood Forest Products for Asia and the Pacific, which he organized in November 1991 at RAPA, Bangkok, he made a clarion call for developing and managing NWFPs. He told the meeting: "It is time that the world moves to a phase where the thrust of forest management is not solely directed towards harvesting the trees, but is equally and seriously concerned about appropriately managing the harvest of the trees."

Sudhakara Rao will be remembered for his forceful advocacy of sound, sustainable and equitable forestry.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.



Non-wood forest products (NWFP) are goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests. Non-timber forest products (NTFP), another term frequently used to cover this vast array of animal and plant products, also includes small wood and fuelwood. However, these two terms are used synonymously throughout this bulletin. Other terms, such as “minor”, “secondary” or “speciality” forest products, are sometimes used to keep original names and/or titles.