An important recommendation of the International Expert Consultation on Non-wood Forest Products held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from 17 to 27 January 1995, was that FAO should develop and provide comprehensive guidelines for sustainable management and utilisation of these products. Preparation of such guidelines is a major and multidisciplinary task which needs to be approached in phases. It involves evaluation of existing knowledge and practices, assessment for their strengths and weaknesses, analysis of linkages of different aspects and influence of technological and institutional factors, development and testing of guidelines for component aspects, and consolidating of them into a compatible set of practical guidelines covering the whole field of NWFPs. This would need time.

Development activities on NWFPs cannot afford to be delayed till the whole process is completed. In fact, it is possible to compare the merits and demerits of selected cases and to develop general principles and approaches for the sustainable management and utilization of NWFPs, and to make them available for reference and use. The present publication: Promoting Non-wood Forest Products for Rural Income and Sustainable Forestry aims to do that. It is basically targeted at planners, practitioners and extension agents and its effects are expected to be filtered down to the benefit of local communities. It is also expected that this would encourage similar publications in local languages.

On our part, it is our intention to follow this publication on principles and approaches with detailed guidelines on specific aspects, and eventually to prepare consolidated and comprehensive guidelines for planning and developing NWFPs. Work is already under way on guidelines for management of non-wood forest resources and marketing of non-wood products.

Material for this publication was assembled and an initial draft prepared by David Taylor. A number of experts working in the field of NWFPs, both within and outside FAO, provided valuable inputs. The final version benefited from the detailed comments provided by Blaak, Braatz, Chipeta, Hoskins, Lintu, Souvannavong and Vantomme. The editing and organising of illustrations were done by Laura Russo. Elisa Rubini did the formatting and proofing. All activities leading to this publication were guided and coordinated by Cherukat Chandrasekharan, Chief, Non-Wood Products and Energy Branch. My thanks are due to all of them.

It is my pleasure and privilege to release this publication with the hope that it will be found useful by readers.

Karl-Hermann Schmincke
Forest Products Division