This volume outlines the approaches for assessing the potential of NWFP activities in a particular area. It is mainly addressed to policy-makers, researchers, local extension workers, NGOs and others professionals to identify and pursue possibilities for better management of NWFPs. It is hoped that through better assistance and support, community-level producers and processors will be able to realize the sustainable potential of NWFP activities. An outline of the kind of technical, institutional and policy support required to promote NWFP activities, is also provided.

Chapters 2 and 3 describe methods of assessing the forest resource as a source of non-wood products, and its relationship to local communities. This assessment of the resource, its sustainable yield and current demands on it form the most basic steps in determining what level of forest use is sustainable in the long term. Yet this crucial information is often overlooked.

Chapter 4 outlines opportunities for improved and integrated forest management incorporating NWFPs, and discusses recent trends in wildlife management, research for medicines, and ecotourism.

Chapters 5-7 focus on enhancing local livelihood through local enterprises based on forest resources. In many cases, capturing an appropriate share of a product's added value closer to the source represents a way to ensure that the resource is valued properly in management decisions, and to distribute its added value more equitably through the market chain. Chapter 5 describes how to identify promising commercial opportunities, how to assess alternatives and what skills are needed for ensuring success of the ventures. Chapter 6 goes into more detail on specific types of NWFP processing enterprises. Chapter 7 outlines the crucial but often neglected areas of marketing and trade.

Chapter 8 addresses the issue of organizing local groups for harvesting, processing and marketing. Collective/participatory organization is an important factor in the success of local enterprises, both economically and environmentally.

Chapters 9 and 10, finally, describe the technical and institutional requirements for improved management of NWFPs.

The principles and approaches described here represent an early step on the path toward better understanding the role and use of NWFPs. Many gaps remain in our knowledge - on harvesting technologies, assessment of resources and harvest levels, as well as on the nature of non-wood forest resources themselves - that must be addressed in further research involving communities. For example, techniques for assessing forest herbs and vines lag behind those for assessing tree-based products; that gap is unavoidably reflected here. Likewise, sub-fields for which few sound guidelines exist, such as ecotourism, are suggested here for further study. The sections "For further reading" after each chapter provide sources of more information.

Appendix 1 lists contact addresses to promote networking among those working in the broad and varied field of NWFPs.

Correcting the neglect of this sector and integrating non-wood forest resources into overall development requires involvement by people from a wide range of backgrounds. This volume attempts to provide a common basis for this collaborative action.

As for Uncle Sanya, ... he was off into the woods on one pretext or the other ... Mushrooms and snails were the real goals, with the gathering of firewood used as the dutiful excuse.

- Wolé Soyinka (Nigeria), Aké: the years of childhood

A large, red-leafed tree in a field caught Maan's attention. "What's that tree?" he asked

... "It looks a bit like a mango with its red leaves, but it isn't a mango."

"That's a mahua1/," said the farmer ... He looked amused, as if he'd had to explain what a cat was.

1/ Madhuca indica.

"Very handsome tree," said Maan.
"Oh yes. Useful too," said the farmer...

"The flowers ... are very light and fragrant ... Ferment them, and they'll give you a liquor ... Cook them, and they'll act as a vegetable. Boil them with milk, and they'll make the milk red and the person who drinks it strong. Mix them with the flour you use to make your rotis with in winter, and you won't feel the cold ... Feed them to your cattle," added the farmer. "It'll double their energy." ...

"What a wonderful tree!" said Maan, delighted ... The countryside, which so far had looked entirely monotonous to him, became interesting.

- Vickram Seth (India), A Suitable Boy