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Australia is currently developing a unique cuisine and an alternative pharmacopoeia using indigenous plants. International interest in these aspects of the national flora is rising to an extent that demand far exceeds supply.

Conservation of resources and indigenous people's involvement are two major issues in developing this industry. Examples of the development of small businesses based on seed and fruit collection in the South-west of Western Australia provide an avenue to explore the potential gains to be made by Aboriginal people and others.

At present, about a dozen plants provide the backbone of what might be seen as the development of "bush tucker" cuisine, but more are used. "Fruits", in the broadest sense, gathered from Acacia, Acronychia, Araucaria, Brachyton, Davidsonia, Ficus, Macadamia, Microcitrus, Santalum, Syzygium and Podocarpus species are used in the preparation of various menu items in restaurants. "Bread" making from Macrozamia communis kernels is once again being undertaken, although as with all the Cycads, leaking of toxins from these foods is of some concern. Flavouring from the leaves or by "greens" from Apium, Backhousia, Portulaca and Tasmannia species add variety and pungency to the meals.

The growth and development of this new plant cuisine has been encouraged by Vic Cherichoff, a food scientist and chemist, who popularized these plant products by recipes for dishes prepared with "bush tucker" ingredients, simultaneously with processed foods. The next stage is to develop the plants to a less "wild" state. Very little scientific work has been done in this regard to increase the economic value of any bush tucker plant, except for Macadamia tetraphylla and M. integrifolia.

Of at least equal importance to the edible qualities of the Australian flora is their potential for the pharmacopoeia.

In most Australian urban centres, there are shops selling blends of aromatic oils and essences with healing properties. Regardless of their medical effectiveness and curative properties, these items offer economic opportunities for people who collect the ingredients and who process the raw material to produce the value-added products such as oils and essences.

In addition to their use in traditional medicine, various plants of the native Australian flora are screened for active compounds to be used in the pharmaceutical formulation of conventional medicine. The Western Australia State Government has passed laws to protect State rights concerning the indigenous flora and to allow it to collect royalties from the developers of successful drugs based on endemic plants. Although so far no practical conclusion has been reached about how and if money will be devolved to Aborigines, it is clear that arrangements must be made; for example the establishment of funds to finance projects for Aboriginal development using this money.

The potential for Aboriginal involvement in bush tucker enterprises is primarily as pickers. Some initiatives have been taken to develop Aboriginal ownership of bush tucker enterprises. Training was provided on how to run a small-scale business and the Western Australia Museum organized seminars in bush locations to identify the species that can actually be collected, since knowledge of species has become somewhat restricted in the Aboriginal communities in the area, due to their "acculturation".

In 1995, the estimated costs to establish an Aboriginal community-based programme, involving supply of bush food and seed, was AUD348 000. Projected income would have balanced the expenditure by the third year. In the fourth year of the project, the income was estimated to level out above AUD300 000, making the project viable.

Other business opportunities are, for example, the collection of seeds of native species for use in gardening, for which there is an increasing emphasis on using native species. Aboriginal people also own and manage several enterprises which introduce tourists to traditional values, foods, and ceremonial activities. Some revegetation schemes exist to replant degraded mining sites with native plant species which produce edible parts. At Pinjarra, just south of Perth, in Western Australia, an Aboriginal community has won a contract to undertake mine-site rehabilitation using species native to the region. The immediate, direct benefit to the people was increased employment.

Social benefits to Aborigines include: increased awareness of the importance of plant resources in their traditional way of life, and a greater appreciation of the ecological value of plants in general, new appreciation of their traditional knowledge, an increased self esteem, and a new sense of community values.

The indiscriminate development of "bush tucker" enterprise could lead to overexploitation of the resources. The conservation of plants in their habitat must be a priority in any developmental scheme. A detailed knowledge of floral resources needs to be amassed, and mechanisms for continuous monitoring of habitat must be established before any of such project is initiated. (Source: edited from Flavours and favours: bush tucker enterprises and Australian Aboriginal involvement by Peter R. Bindon, Anthropology Department, Western Australia Museum, Perth, Western Australia. Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Congress of the South African Association of Botanists, University of Stellenbosch, 15-20 January 1996)

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In Bangladesh, Nypa fruticans, locally known as golpata, is an important NWFP from the Sundarbans mangroves and a highly valuable resource for the coastal population. Nipa leaves are traditionally used as raw material for rural housing in the coastal areas. In many countries, the leaves also have a variety of other uses: to make umbrellas, baskets, mats, bags, for wrapping cigarettes (young leaves), and fuel (leaf stalks). Young seeds are edible, mature seeds are used to make buttons, and sap from the inflorescence is a source of sugar used to produce alcohol and vinegar. This resource is a major source of revenue in the country. The annual out-turn of Nipa leaves is approximately 60 800 tonnes.

In Bangladesh, most of the Nipa products originate from the Sundarbans mangroves. An insignificant amount of Nipa leaves are harvested from mangrove plantations. In some areas, private land owners maintain Nipa palm trees in small blocks to fulfil their own needs. There is scope to increase the area of Nipa palm plantations on newly accreted lands along the 700 km coastal belt under the on-going mangrove afforestation programme. Mangrove afforestation on newly accreted barren coastal lands was initiated in 1966. By 1994, 127 000 hectares of mangroves had been planted with several mangrove species.

Nipa palm has been raised successfully in small blocks and in very restricted areas on new accretions in the coastal areas. Adequate information, particularly in relation to site suitability for the newly emerging coastal lands, is lacking. The highly dynamic geomorphology of coastal ecosystems affects the growth of these plantations, especially for slow-growing species such as the Nipa palm, because seeds and seedlings may be buried through siltation or removed by erosion before their establishment. The Sundarbans ecosystem is reasonably more stable and it is easier to establish Nipa palm there than in other coastal areas of the country (e.g. Patuakhali, Bhola, Noakhali and Chittagong).

In the last few years the Bangladesh Forest Research Institute has been carrying out research on artificial regeneration (seed treatment and nursery techniques), planting techniques (spacing, age of seedlings) site requirements and selection and silvicultural treatments of planted Nipa palms to increase the success of raising plantations of this species on newly accreted coastal lands.

For more information please contact:

Dr Neaz Ahmad Siddiqui, Divisional Officer, Minor Forest Products Division, Bangladesh Forest Research Institute
P.O. Box 273, Chittagong 4000, Bangladesh
Fax: +880-31-681566 and +880-31-681585.

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A recent publication, Non-Wood Forest Products in Bhutan, (1996) prepared by the Forestry Services Division of the Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and published by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, highlights the extensive use and potential of NWFPs in Bhutan.

NWFPs touch nearly all aspects of the life of a Bhutanese. The publication reviews the status, distribution, current uses and potential of some of the most important NWFPs: bamboo, cane, wild banana, fibre, floss and brooms, medicinal plants, traditional paper, essential oils, rosin and turpentine, vegetable oils, ornamental plants, the Himalayan Yew, natural vegetable dyes, food, fruit species, mushrooms, gums, waxes and incense.

For copies, please contact:

Patrick Durst, Regional Forestry Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific 39 Phra Atit Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Fax: +66-2-2800 445

A special issue of Druk Forestry News (January 1996), the newsletter of the Forestry Services Division of Bhutan, was entirely devoted to NWFPs. The special issue contains ample information on recent and on-going activities in the field on NWFPs and on the organizations involved, plus notes on some products (e.g. mushrooms and bamboo).

For copies of this special issue, please contact:

Druk Forestry News, Social Forestry & Extension Section, Forestry Services Division
P.O. Box 130, Thimphu, Bhutan
Fax: +975-2-22395

Forestry officials in Bhutan recently uncovered a large-scale illegal harvesting and sale of the Chinese caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis) in Wangdue Phodrang Dzongkhag. The caterpillar fungus is a parasite that grows its stem in the head of the caterpillar. It is used as an ingredient in a tonic which is believed to improve general health, cure urinary infections and serve as an aphrodisiac.

The fungus is found only in parts of China and the Himalayas. It is greatly valued by oriental medicinal practitioners and can reportedly fetch a price of US$1 000/kg in many Southeast Asian countries. In Bhutan it figures at the top of the restricted list of the Forest Act and only the National Institute of Traditional Medicine has the legal right to harvest it. Attempts to cultivate it have proven unsuccessful. (Source: Druk Forestry News, Issue 13, October 1996)

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El Centro de Estudios Regionales para el Desarrollo de Tarija CER-DET (Casilla 83, Tarija, Bolivia) está realizando un trabajo de investigación sobre el uso y estado actual de la Palma Trithrinax schizophylla, Drude, en las comunidades indígenas guaranís que se encuentran ubicadas en el sur de Bolivia, en un ecosistema de Chaco Serrano. Las hojas de palmas se usan para techar casas, con una duración aproximada de 15 a 20 años, y para la fabricación de sombreros, canastas y otros artículos útiles. (Contributed by: T. Frisk, Regional Forestry Officer, FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago, Chile;
Fax: +56-2-6961121;

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The project Plantas do Nordeste (PNE, see also Non-Wood News 3), started in August 1994, is conducting a survey on the nutritional value of forage plants in the Parnaíba river basin.

The basin extends over the states of Piauí, Maranhão and Ceará, covering an area of about 320 000 km2.

The main economic activity is ranching of cattle, goats, sheep, horses, mules and donkeys. The main forage plant groups are grasses and legumes; other important families include Amaranthaceae, Malvaceae and Rubiaceae. The most important and abundant species are chemically analysed for a number of nutritional parameters. As a result of this study, an illustrated manual will be published, containing data on the occurrence, use and nutritional value of the more promising forage plants.

The project is also providing training opportunities for students to expand their knowledge and expertize.

For more information, please contact:

Karen Pipe-Wolferstan, Coordinator, PNE, Royal Botanic Gardens,
Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, England
Fax: +44-1813325740

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Lying in Southwestern Hunan Province, Huaihua Prefecture covers a territory of 27 600 km2, with a total population of 4.2 million people. The development of processing industries based on local natural resources is contributing to the economical development of this mountain region. Bamboo, medicinal plants, red bayberries and mushrooms are examples of locally available non-wood forest products which sustain local processing enterprises.

The Huitong county is a bamboo-producing area with over 2 000 hectares of bamboo forests. Seven townships are particularly involved in bamboo production, where 42 enterprises are working to develop ten series of bamboo products. The value of each bamboo plant has increased 60 times as a result and contributed significantly to the average family income in the county. Bamboos fulfil many needs: construction material, food, handicrafts and sleighs. Private processing enterprises are supported by the local government through financial and technological aid. Huaihua Prefecture has already established 12 000 private enterprises specializing in bamboo products, fruits, edible oils, herbal medicines and other specialties, employing 56 000 people and making an annual profit of 240 million yuan.

In the village of Outuan, Jingzhou County, the main industrial activity is based on fuling, a traditional Chinese herbal remedy. Nearly every family in the village plants and harvests fuling. In 1992, the village processed 3500 tonnes of fuling for a total output value of over 10 million yuan and an average family income of more than 10 000 yuan. The processing of fuling has now expanded to the whole county which produces 80 percent of China's total fuling export.

Ginger is processed to produce butadiene, a rare market commodity, thereby increasing the value of ginger ten times over. More than 4 000 local households in seven townships and three counties plant ginger for this purpose. Production at the chemical plants have been growing. At present, exports of butadiene reach an annual revenue of more than US$5 million and accounts for 90 percent of China's total butadiene export. (Source: extracted and edited from China Today, October 1995.)

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El Proyecto Conservación para el Desarrollo Sostenible en América Central (Olafo) del Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), está desarrollando programas de investigación y promoción del aprovechamiento de los recursos vegetales la diversidad biológica que componen tropical.

El proyecto Olafo estudia el potencial de varios recursos maderables y no maderables del bosque centroamericano como alternativa para el desarrollo de las comunidades rurales.

En el caso de especies vegetales con usos diferentes (extractos insecticidas o medicinales, artesanía, leña, ornamentales y alimenticios), el proyecto desarrolla sistemas de manejo de poblaciones naturales en condiciones sostenibles y rentables. Se estudian las posibilidades de arbustos (Quassia amara, Ryania speciosa), palmas (Reinhardtia gracilis, Chamaedorea elegans), lianas (Desmoncus spp., Heteropsis oblongifolia, Philodendron rigidifolium, Smilax spp.), mangle (Rizophora mangle, Avicennia marina) y otras plantas (Zamia skinneri, Carludovica palmata). (Contributed by: T. Frisk, Regional Forestry officer, FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago, Chile)

Para mayor información se puede escribir a:

Dra. Tannia Ammour, Líder, Proyecto Conservación para el Desarrollo Sostenible en América Central (Olafo/CATIE)
7170 CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica
Fax: +506-5561533, 5561421

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One of the largest local indigenous groups living within and around Yasuní National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon are the Waoranis. The Center for Tropical Forest Sciences, in collaboration with EcoCiencia, an Ecuadorian NGO, has carried out a study on the local uses and level of consumption of non-timber forest products in the buffer zone of the park. In particular the study focused on the degree to which access to economic markets affects the Waoranis' use of tropical forest products.

The communities under study consume, on a monthly basis, a wide array of plant species consisting of 31 families and 76 plant species. The most frequently used family is the palm family (Arecaceae), with a total of 11 species utilized. The leaf fibres of Astrocaryum chambira are used to make hammocks and handbags, which are traded in the nearby cities. Iriartea deltoides, another palm, is used to make blowpipes, which were once an important hunting tool and are now mainly sold as crafts. Other important non-palm families are Cecropiaceae, Rubiaceae and Sterculiaceae.

Waoranis use forest plants mainly as food sources (although the majority of their food comes from agricultural crops) accounting for 60 percent of all species recorded. The second most important use recorded was "craft and tool" category (17.5 percent of all species recorded) which includes natural fibres and tints, crafts, poisons such as barbasco (Lonchocarpus nicou) used to catch fishes, and curare (Curarea tecunarum) used for hunting. Construction materials comprised 13 percent, which includes the annual renovation of houses due to termite damage. Medicinal plants represent only 2.8 percent of all species harvested and fuelwood 4.8 percent (this does not take into account the reuse of the wood from former houses as fuelwood).

Waoranis are also active hunters, especially of mammals and particularly the common woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagothrichia), the collared peccary (Tayassu pecari), the Amazon red brocket deer (Mazama americana) and the agouti (Agouti paca).

Due to their recent migration closer to riparian environments, fishing has become popular among Waorani communities.

The use of forest products is strongly influenced by access to markets: communities which are closest to markets thus harvest and extract larger amounts of forest products and, as market pressure increases, increased pressure on resources follows. (Source: F. Rodriguez. Waorani hunting and harvesting practices in Ecuador. CTFS Newsletter, Summer 1996. Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 900 Jefferson Dr., Suite 2207, Washington DC 20560 Fax: +1-202-7862819.)

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A joint research programme of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology at the Free University Berlin and the International Trypanotolerant Centre in the Gambia is planned to start soon with the aim of investigating the efficacy of two promising plants used in West Africa to treat trypanosomiasis and helminthiasis. The research proposal "Studies for evaluating the trypanocidal and anthelmintic activities of extracts from Ceiba pentandra and Terminalia avicennoides and for determining their active principles" should help increase knowledge of the structure and biological activity of metabolites in the two plant sources. It is expected that the results will contribute considerably to a better understanding of the traditional use of C. pentandra and T. avicennoides in The Gambia.

For more information on this research proposal, please contact:

Dr Nsekuye Bizimana, Institute of Parasitology and Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Free University Berlin
Koenigsweg 67, 14163, Berlin
Fax: +49-30-81082323

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La Palma conocida científicamente como Sabal guatemalensis es una planta ampliamente distribuida en la región semiárida de Guatemala, concretamente en la región del Progreso y parte de Zacapa y Chiquimula, aunque puede encontrarse en otras partes del territorio nacional. Esta palma fué descrita por Stanley y Steyermark (1958) y se menciona en la Flora de Guatemala con sus principales características taxonómicas y su distribución.

Actualmente se sabe muy poco sobre la especie, a pesar de que su conservación está íntimamente ligada a los actividades productivas de los habitantes de la región. De hecho, los pocos rodales naturales existentes están en proceso de desaparición debido a la fuerte presión de la población que utiliza las hojas en el sector industrial para la fabricación de sombreros, petates, sopladores, escobas, adornos y techos de casas. Aunque se reconoce que la economía de muchas familias depende en gran mediada del aprovechamiento de la palma, se ha hecho muy poco desde el punto de vista institucional por buscar opciones más adecuadas para el mejor aprovechamiento de esta especie y brindar, así, a los agricultores mejores ventajas para un manejo sostenido de la especie, como por ejemplo para la regeneración de los rodales.

Tomando en consideración lo anterior, la Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad de San Carlos, a través del Instituto de Investigaciones Agronómicas y el Ejercicio Profesional Supervisado, inició en Julio de 1995 un proyecto de investigación para establecer el estado actual de S. guatemalensis en la región, con el fin de realizar estudios integrales sobre la especie, que puedan ofrecer opciones viables de manejo para los agricultores. En la primera parte del estudio se tomó como zono de muestreo la aldea El Conacaste, situada en San Agustín Acasaguastlán.

La fase metodológica del estudio ha consistido en consultar a los agricultores mediante un cuestinario elaborado con ese fin. Para tomar datos de campo se aplicó un muestreo simple al azar, en los diferentes rodales naturales de palma. Se registró información, como el diámetro a la altura del pecho (d.a.p.), la altura total y el numero de hojas, directamente de la especie en parcelas rectangulares de 0.1 ha. En las zonas donde existen sistemas agroforestales con S. guatemalensis, se determinaron las mismas variables así como los arreglos espaciales y manejo del cultivo, pasto y/o ganadería.

Los resultados iniciales indican que la especie S. guatemalensis alcanza un promedio de 3.5 m de altura, d.a.p. de 0.35 m y un promedio de 8 hojas por planta. Por otra parte, la S.guatemalensis también se encuentra en asociaciones agroforestales. En el cuadro siguiente se presentan las asociaciones principales.

En cuanto a usos, los agricultores indican que la hoja de palma se utiliza para techar casas (estos llegan a durar hasta 20 años); protecger viveros de café; construir tapescos, graneros, y gallineros; y para artesanía (sombreros, envases, adornos, etc.). Se ha registrado también que algunos agricultores propagan la palma en sus propios terrenos por medio de la semilla que colectan en los rodales; las plantas producidas son establecidas en los terrenos con el propósito de aprovecharlas. Finalmente, es importante indicar que en los rodales evaluados no encontraron intervenciones de manejo, lo cual pone en peligro la supervivencia de la especie y los sistemas de producción de los agricultores de la región.

Sistemas agroforestales con S. guatemalensis registrados en la Aldea El Conacaste, San Agustín Acasaguastlán, El Progreso
S. guatemalensis Zea mays,
Cucurbita pepo
Annona muricata Biestrato No
S. guatemalensis Zea mays,
Cucurbita pepo,
Psidium guajaba,
Guazuma ulmifolia,
Byrsonima crassifolia
Multiestrato No
S. guatemalensis - Rynchelitrum roseum Monoestrato Parcial
S. guatemalensis - Leucaena leucocephala,
Spondias purpurea,
Byrsonima crassifolia,
Tabebuia pentaphila,
Anacardium occidentalis
Multiestrato No
(Contributed by: José Miguel Leiva and Henry Ortiz Paiz, Instituto de Investigaciones Agronómicas, Facultad de Agronomía,
Universidad de San Carlos, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala.)

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Insecticides based on the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) are environment-friendly and non-toxic to human beings and farm animals. Neem seed collection could generate income in semi-arid areas where trees grow well and other sources of income are scarce. An article published in "Miti Ni Maendeleo", the newsletter jointly produced by ICRAF, KEFRI, KARI and ITSFP, reports on trials undertaken by GTZ in Kenya to show the potential for a small-scale industry based on neem seeds. The article also describes the most appropriate methods for seed handling and processing. On the Kenyan coast, neem trees usually fruit twice a year, with higher yields at the beginning of the long rains from March to May. Fruits are more easily collected along roadsides, in alleys or in courtyards where the bare soil or low cut vegetation allows the sweeping up of the fruits. The amount of azadirachtin does not change once the fruit is full grown, so green fruits can also be collected; however, unless a depulper is available for depulping the fruits, ripe fruits should be used.

Once collected and the soil, stones and other material removed, it is very important to separate the seeds from the pulp on the same day. The easiest way to do this is to rub the seeds through a wire mesh sieve. Another method is to pass the fruits through a modified coffee depulper, with the depulper adjusted to the size of the neem seed kernels. After depulping, the seeds are washed again.

The kernels are then spread on the ground to dry. Mould on the fruits can affect the content of azadirachtin. Although it is generally recommended to dry the kernels in half-shade (probably because azadirachtin is sensitive to light and high temperatures), the project obtained excellent quality material from sun-dried seeds, which is definitely the fastest method. Under normal circumstances, seeds should be dry enough for packing after two days.

Threshing usually takes place only when several tonnes of material have been accumulated. Trials with a locally made threshing machine have given good results. A hand operated machine costs 15 000 Kenyan shillings. It generally costs about Ksh4 500/tonne to have the threshing done commercially, and Ksh1 500 to 2 000 for transport. These amounts could be saved on each tonne that the producers thresh themselves.

Dry seeds are packaged in bags and stored safely under a roof with good air circulation so as to avoid humidity and fungal infection. Ideally, they are sent for final processing as soon as possible in order to maintain quality. The project sent material from the coast to Nairobi with the Malindi Bus company, with good results.

The project hoped to collect at least 20 tonnes of seeds in 1996, while the potential crop of neem seeds that could be collected in Kenya is actually several thousand tonnes. (Source: Miti Ni Maendeleo, April 1996.)

For more information, please contact:

Bernard Löhr, GTZ IPM Horticulture
P.O. Box 41607, Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: +254-2-562670

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In January 1997, a Non-Timber Forest Products Information Center (NIC) was established under the Department of Forestry in Lao PDR with the aim of collecting information about ongoing NTFP activities in Lao PDR, and advance research in this field. The Center will focus on creating a link between the numerous NTFP activities at present being implemented by organizations such as IUCN, Fornacop, the Lao-Swedish programme, JVC, CARE, the Bamboo and Rattan Institute, the Medicinal Plants Institute etc. It also aims to link up with international NTFP initiatives, research institutions etc.

For more information, please contact:

Department of Forestry
P.O. Box 4340 Vientiane, Lao PDR
Fax: +856 21 222861

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In Madhya Pradesh, forest fungi find an important place in the diet and medicine of tribal people. They are used both for subsistence and for commercialization locally, and represent an important addition to income from the forest when other NWFPs are not available. Women, who are responsible for the preparation of food for the family, are the most active in the collection and selling of forest fungi.

About eight main species are collected as edible fungi. Most of them have a very short shelf-life but for longer storage some species are dried under the sun or over a fire.

The same edible species, and other species have various medicinal uses: wound healing, eye disorders, control of bleeding, typhoid fever, labour pain, asthma, vomiting, and to encourage lactation.

Some fungi are used for decoration. From October to December they grow on decaying wood and are collected in bulk and sold to buyers, at 1-3 rupees/kg. It is reported that approximately 20 to 30 tonnes are collected every year. The buyers transport the fungi in trucks to Delhi, Calcutta and Tuticorin. In the cities, the price of the fungi is about 20 rupees/kg. From the cities the fungi are exported at a price of US$2-3/kg. The use of these fungi is for decoration.

At present, the fungi collected from the forest have a very low price compared to that of cultivated fungi, even if the quality, in terms of taste and nutritional value, is not inferior. The marketing and selling is not as organized as other NWFPs (myrobalans, tendu leaves, sal seeds, mahua flowers, fruits) and business is restricted to rural areas.

Improved and easier cleaning techniques (to improve also the presentation of the product), improved drying techniques, and packaging could be taught to tribal women. Ways to increase the profitability of fungi collection, for the benefit of all the tribe, and particularly women, could be: promoting the fungi for their taste and nutritional value in order to establish markets, especially in urban areas; encouraging collection by ensuring a fair price to the collectors through co-operatives and governmental and private agencies; providing transport, with cooling facilities, from tribal communities to a common processing canning or drying unit and/or to nearby markets. (Source: edited from N.S.K. Harsh, C.K. Tiwari & B.K. Rai.1996. Forest fungi in the aid of tribal women of Madhya Pradesh. Sustainable Forestry, 1(1):10-15.)

For more information please contact:

The Tropical Forest Research Institute
Mandia Road, 482021 Jabalpur, India
Fax: +91-761-321759

NWFP and their major producing plants in the Thar desert of India

Edible oils
Citrullus lanatus, Carthamus tinctorius

Non-edible oils
Azadirachta indica, Citrullus colocynthus, Salvadora oleoides, Salvadora persica

Essential oils
Acacia farnesiana, Cymbopogon martinii, C. nardus, Ocimum asilicum, Trachyspermum ammi

Agave americana, Abutilon indicum, Acacia jacquemontii, Crotalaria burhia, C. juncea, Calotropis procera, Leptadenia pyrotechnica

Mats and baskets
Alhagi pseudoalhagi, Tiphrosia falciformis, Typha negundo, Tamarix aphylla, T. erecoides

Acacia senegal, A. nilotica, A. tortilis

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Commiphora wrigthii, Boswellia serrata

Dyes and tannins
Acacia nilotica, A. jacquemontii, Cassia auriculata, Indigofera tinctoria, Lawsonia inermis, Wrightia tinctoria, Arnebia hispidissima

Petroleum substitute
Calotropis procera, Euphorbia tirucalli

Sida cordifolia, Balanites roxburghii, Commiphora wrigthii, Tephrosia purpurea, Citrullus colocynthus, Datura metal, Solanum surattense, Asparagus racemosus, Ephedra foliata, Aegle marmelos, Azadirachta indica, Cassia angustifolia, Plantago ovata, Withania somnifera, Aloe barbadensis

Famine foods
Capparis decidua, Fagonia indica, Tribulus terrestris, Zizyphus nummularia, Acacia senegal, Cenchrus setigerus, Panicum antidotale

Prosopis cineraria, Zizyphus nummularia, Albizzia lebbeck, Cenchrus ciliaris, Dolichos lablab, Clitoria ternatea

Zizyphus mauritiana, Punica granatum, Embilica officinalis, Phoenix dactilifera

(Contributed by: A.K. Sharma, Division of Resource Management, Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Chopasani Housing Board, Jodhpur 342008, India Fax: +91-291-26034.)

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In February 1996, an FAO mission travelled to Mexico to assist the Mexican Government in the preparation of a Community Forestry Project in Oaxaca to be financed by the World Bank. The project was successfully negotiated between the Mexican Government and the World Bank in November 1996. the total amount of the project is US$23.6 million, of which the WB loan is US$15 million. The main objectives of the five-year project are to: (1) improve forest management and reduce deforestation; (2) improve the well-being of forest dependent ejidos; (3) improve the quality of service of private forestry extension to the ejidos, (4)design strategies for the sustainable use of NTFPs; and (5) strengthen the capacity of federal and state forest services involved in the project.

The proposed steps for the NTFP component of the project (promotion of Non-Timber Forest Products), which would concentrate on traded products initially, would be:

Step 1 - detailed assessment of traded NTFPs in each participating state. (To compile information on the extent of the resource base, management systems, annual output, processing systems, marketing systems, gender issues and prices.) Step 1 would also include a project promotion programme which would aim to make communities aware of project objectives and activities.

Step 2 - assistance to communities for field-testing promising proposals for the development of NTFPs through grant funding to ejidos in the participating states.

Step 3 - evaluation, publication and dissemination of results and experiences, not only within states, but also between states where the potential benefits of information transfer can be seen. The evaluation process would include a detailed description of methodologies associated with the successful harvesting, transport, processing and marketing of the product, together with information on costs, returns and risks. The aim would be to identify and promote success stories so that communities in other areas with similar, under-utilized resources could be made aware of the income-generating potential of NTFPs and the steps that should be taken to realize that potential. (Source: R.A. Owen, FAO Technical Cooperation Department (Investment Centre), TCIL. Fax: +39-6-52254657; E-mail:

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Au Maroc, les produits forestiers non ligneux récoltés et transformés sont nombreux et variés: champignons, plantes médicinales et aromatiques, miel, fourrage et pâturage, etc. Le Quercus suber est le principal de ces produits. Sur une superficie totale de chêne liège de 350 000 hectares, seuls 273 000 sont productifs (78 percent). Les suberaies qui ne sont pas encore mises en valeur sont celles non aménagéees ou jeunes.

Les unités de transformation produisent de 11 000 à 12 000 tonnes environ par an de liège brut, semi-oeuvré et manfacturé (bouchons, rondelles, granulés, liège en planche, aggloméré de liège, déchets de liège). Le volume annuel moyen exporté est de l'ordre de 8 600 tonnes, d'une valeur approximative de 111 millions de dirhams (US$1 = 9 dirhams).

Le Maroc présente une diversité de biotopes propices à une faune riche et variée. Les droits de chasse et de pêche appartiennentt à l'Etat. La faune cynegétique et piscicole est exploitée soit en amodiation à des societés, soit à des associations, moyennant le paiement d'une redevance annuelle ou d'une licence. (Source: Morocco Country Report to the 10th Session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, Sambonani, South Africa, 27 November - 1 December 1995.)

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The Institute of Biodiversity of Nepal (IBN) is a non-profit, public interest and research institute established in 1992. IBN's activities include: biodiversity awareness training, field and laboratory botanical research on the sustainable utilization of medicinal and other plants of economic value. The primary emphasis of the Institute is on the Khaptad region of western Nepal which, because of its remoteness, is still one of the country's pristine areas. The establishment of a database on the region's biological and cultural diversity is also one of the activities of IBN.

The Institute, in close association with the tribal societies of Nepal, is documentating indigenous knowledge of traditional medicines and wild germplasm of economic value.

The major programmes of the Institute are: Sustainable biodiversity research and education; Medicinal plant research; Community training and participation in biodiversity; support for traditional healing and educational programmes; database establishment; the Khaptad herbarium and museum.

Among the recent studies carried out by IBN are: a study of medicinal plants and traditional medicinal practices in the Terai and Dun Valley of Nepal (with a grant by USAID); conservation strategies of biodiversity in the Khaptad Region in Western Nepal (grant by the Biodiversity Conservation Network Program, USAID); biological and cultural diversity of the Parsa Wildlife reserve in Central Nepal (grant from the National Geographic Society, USA).

For more information, please contact:

Dr Ram Chaudary, Director, Insitute of Biodiversity of Nepal
P.O. Box 5927, Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: +977-1-526318

Nepal Ecoessential Medicinal Plants Society - NEEM
This non-governmental organization is based at Nepalganj in the Banke district of mid-western Nepal. Its aims are: to promote planting and conservation of trees important for their non-timber products, promote income generation through these products, promote agroforestry on both private and government land and work towards better land use that will safeguard the environment.

For more information, please contact:

NEEM Society, Tribhuwan Chowk (East), Nepalgunj, Nepal

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Nigeria is one of the numerous tropical countries with whom Shaman Pharmaceuticals (see also under "International Action") collaborates in ethnobotanical research in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Its collaboration with Nigeria is presented by Shaman as an example of the firm's commitment to comply with the principles of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), and particularly "to encourage the equitable sharing of benefits arising from utilization of traditional/indigenous knowledge, innovations and practices".

The first step in its ethnobotanical research in Nigeria, was to seek "prior informed consent" of the Nigerian collaborators, in accordance with the CBD.

The following issues were discussed with village communities, traditional healers, Western-trained scientists of the University of Nigeria at Nsukka, and Government officials: the activities and philosophy of the company, the intentions and goals of the project (including the potential for commercialization of plant-based products), how and where the plants would be analyzed, the potential for commercialization of any pharmaceutical that is developed, compensation and benefit-sharing for collaborators, immediate compensation and medium and long-term benefits for the collaborators and for the whole community, focusing on what the community expected from the relationship. Village communities had been contacted in advance by Nigerian scientists and all these aspects had been discussed prior to visits to them by Shaman. The communities had time to discuss and, if interested, to request Shaman to visit their community. When the Shaman team arrived, issues were discussed again, and when an agreement was reached, Shaman proceeded to undertake collaborative ethnobotanical research with the traditional healers, and record ethnomedical and botanical information on specific medicinal plants.

Copies of all the voucher specimens collected, together with the botanical and ethnomedical data were deposited at two Nigerian institutions. Bulk botanical collections were made later by the Nigerians, who expressed how important it was for them to have this opportunity to make bulk collections and to receive medium-term benefits from the sale of plant material.

The Department of Ethnobotany and Conservation at Shaman Pharmaceuticals provided US$20 000 in 1990, US$10 000 in 1991 and US$10 000 in 1992 to the University of Nigeria at Nsukka to enhance research on the pharmacological, chemical and botanical aspects of medicinal plants. The University used the funds to support various activities in the area of pharmacology and pharmacognosy, and training.

In 1991 a non-governmental organization, the Bioresource Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), was established by Nigerians representing a variety of cultural groups. Since the inception of BDCP, Shaman Pharmaceuticals has provided financial support to strengthen its infrastructure and to conduct its activities. BDCP has carried out many activities aimed at establishing collaboration with traditional healers: holding educational workshops, the establishment of a library and laboratory facilities, research on plants to treat parasitic diseases prevalent in West Africa, and the development of strategies to utilize traditional botanical medicines in the best way to meet health care needs in Africa. The BDCP is now expanding to other African countries, such as Cameroon and Guinea where host country scientists and traditional healers manage these organizations (see also under "News and Notes").

Communities and traditional healers are compensated in the short term through payment for the time spent working with the project. A way to ensure medium-term benefits is by releasing laboratory results to the communities, as Shaman has done regularly. A number of these healers read, write and speak English. Knowledge of the research results enables Nigeria to address many of its public health needs with safe, effective and inexpensive medicinal plants that grow locally.

A medium- and long-term benefit is the ability to provide bulk plant material at a fair price, thus developing an economically viable market through the sale of non-timber plant material. This is carried out under ecologically sound methods. (Source: edited from Carlson, T.J., Iwu, M., King, S.,Elisabetsky, E., Obialor, C., Ozonnamalu, C., Ozioko, A. Agwu,C. O.C. Compliance with the Convention on Biological Diversity: a case study of Shaman Pharmaceutical's collaboration with Nigeria. Draft for submission to Policy Forum, October 25, 1996)

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Medicinal and aromatic plants are used as health care products in traditional systems of medicine prevalent in Pakistan (either as raw, single herb preparations or manufactured, finished products, including substances of psychotropic and ritual/religious value). Medicinal plants are also used as raw materials in the pharmaceutical industry to procure essential oils, fixed oils, tannins, gums and resins, and pharmacologically active constituents; in cooking and as spices and food colourants, as natural cosmetics, and as a health food. This last use is rising continuously and is playing a major role in the industrial development of medicinal plants.

Medicinal plants are growing abundantly in the wild in Hazara, Malakand, Kurram Agency, Murree Hills, Azad Kashmir, Northern Areas and Baluchistan, or are cultivated on farmlands in Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, North-West Frontier Province and Kashmir. According to surveys carried out by the Pakistan Forest Institute in 1989, 500 tonnes of medicinal plants are produced in Hazara and Malakand, 16 tonnes in Murree Hills, 38 tonnes in Azad Kashmir and 24 tonnes in Northern Areas. These plants are collected from the wild and sold in a dried or semi-processed form in local markets or exported abroad. Approximately 5 000 poor families, residing in remote hilly areas are engaged in the collection of medicinal plants during the summer months in the North-West Frontier Province.

In Hazad Kashmir, the most valuable medicinal plant is the Kuth, Saussurea lappa, which in 1989-90 had a total revenue of 0.5 million Rupees (US$1 = 40 rupees).

The pharmaceutical industry in the country concentrates on a smaller number of herbs, about twenty. The nine most important, ranging in quantities from 2 to 1 000 tonnes, are liquorice, castor oil, black cumin, ephedra, artemisia, aloe, leaves of Malabar nut, valerian and dioscorea. Other products of major interest for the pharmaceutical industry include tinctures and spirits, and essential oils, which are also manufactured from local plant resources. Consumption of essential oils has been estimated at 86 000 kg/year.

Except for cultivated medicinal plants, the availability of medicinal plant raw materials from the wild, however, is still erratic in Pakistan. Production levels of herbs are directly influenced by economic factors such as market prices, cost of production, cost of collection, and returns to the grower and collectors. In addition, the majority of medicinal plants are collected in the hilly and desert areas of the country where collection and transportation facilities are very poor.

The unfavourable situation of the markets for medicinal plants in Pakistan is linked to the fact that the potential of this sector as an industry, and the value of medicinal plants for large-scale use, have not yet been recognized. The main constraints presently faced in the medicinal plant sector are: uncontrolled exploitation of the natural resource base, which is linked to the lack of knowledge of the proper technology for the collection and handling of medicinal plants; lack of government support in the form of incentives and projects regarding cultivation, procurement, regeneration, management, storage, post-harvesting protection, marketing and export; and lack of assistance/education in quality control.

Pakistan's exports of medicinal plants and their products are relatively low compared to many other countries in Asia. However, considerable potential remains for expansion if improved methods are applied. For example, standardization of herbal drugs has been undertaken by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research: 135 commonly used drugs have been analysed for various parameters. Collection, regeneration, cultivation, handling processing and marketing techniques need to be improved and diffused. Pakistani firms are not professionally prepared to answer the needs of an evermore conscious market supplied by an ever increasing number of well-organized suppliers from many countries.

The potential of medicinal plants for the development of the arid zone of the country must be studied and tapped with appropriate measures. (Source: extracted and edited from Aftab Saeed. Case study on the medicinal, culinary and aromatic plants in Pakistan. Prepared for the FAO Regional Office for the Near East, Cairo, Egypt, November 1995)

For more information please contact:

Department of Academic research, Sharae Madinat al-Hikmah
Karachi-74600, Pakistan

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In Panama, rural people living outside the forest make frequent use of the great diversity of trees native to the region.

The 247 residents of the community of Las Pavas, located near the Panama Canal, have neither running water nor electricity. The soils are poor and most of the land is under cattle farming. Many farmers maintain small gardens, growing agricultural food crops. In a study conducted within the framework of agroforestry research carried out by the Centre for Tropical Forest Science, the use of 119 species was recorded, including 108 tree species, 3 shrubs, 2 herbs, 4 lianas and 2 vines. Nearly all the species recorded are native to the area but are never cultivated locally.

The predominant use of forest plants is for construction of houses (71 species). According to the survey, 67 percent of the houses had roofs made of leaves of Scheelea zonensis (a palm), 60 percent of the walls are Socratea exorrhiza (a palm). Forty tree species are used for fuelwood, 27 for fences and 13 for live fences.

Most of the species (82) were collected in secondary forests near the community, and fewer (47) were collected in mature forests. The rest were taken from areas of cultivation and among river banks. (Source: edited from S. Aguilar. Ethnobotanical value of plants to the Las Pavas community. CTFS Newsletter, Summer 1996. Center for Tropical Forest Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 900 Jefferson Dr., Suite 2207, Washington DC 20560. Fax: +1-202-786-2819.)

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A wide variety of medicinal plants, nuts, ferns, mushrooms, essential oils and resins are found in the forests of the Russian Far East.

Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng) is native to the region: the roots, leaves and berries are used in teas and tinctures to enhance physical endurance, mental alertness and resistance to stress.

Schisandra chinensis (limonik) is valued as a mild stimulant. The berries and the seed are used to produce juice, oils and tinctures.

Aralia mandschurica (Devil's walkingstick): the rhizome and leaves are used in tonics and teas.

Pleridium aquilinum (Orlyak) and Osmunda japonica (Osmund) -edible ferns which are considered a delicacy both in the Russian Far East and Asia when pickled.

The Russian Far Eastern Association for the Use of Non-timber Forest Products was created in the summer of 1995. The primary objective of the Association is to promote sustainable development of forest communities through the use of NTFPs. At present, the Association is coordinating the activities of organizations involved in the use of NTFPs in Primorski and Khabarovskii Krais.

Members of the Association produce ecologically clean products from plants, many of which are endemic to the Russian Far East, a region free from factories and chemical pollution.

The Association carries out market research and seeks markets for NTFPs in Russia and abroad. The Association receives support and assistance from many environmental organizations world-wide, e.g. The Siberian Forest Protection Project of the Pacific Environment and Resources Centre (PERC) [which provides financial assistance to the Association as well as marketing assistance in the US and Europe], the Environmental Policy and Technology Projects (EPT) [a USAID initiative], and Friends of the Earth-Japan, among others.

EPT provided assistance in the initial phase of the Association: it sponsored the acquisition of NTFP processing equipment, which is already being used by many communities in the Sikhote-Alin region of Primorski and Khabarovskii Krais. EPT has also organized seminars on harvesting and processing of raw materials, marketing, and development of business plans.

PERC is working with local people in the Khor and Bikin valleys in the Sikhote-Alin mountains to promote small-scale initiatives for NTFPs. It is hoped that NTFP development will create small, community-based economies which will provide a living wage for the people, preserve traditional customs, empower local communities, and protect biodiversity by offering an alternative to timber logging.

Developing successful NTFP initiatives helps indigenous people, such as the Udege in the Russian Far East, to obtain traditional land rights through the establishment of a Territory of Traditional Natural Resource Use for Indigenous Peoples of the North.

The project has contacted buyers in the United States of Siberian ginseng and limonik from the Russian Far East. PERC is also compiling a database of NTFP contacts and customers in the United States and seeks to involve more individuals, businesses and organizations in the promotion of NTFPs from the Russian Far East. On the Russian side, the project is working with enterprises to increase the production and processing of NTFPs. A catalogue of NTFPs has been prepared and technical knowledge has been gathered on the processing of fern, limonik, birch juice, wild garlic, Aralia and Eleutherococcus roots. The project organized a NTFP workshop in June 1995. Over 30 scientists, NTFP producers, government officials, indigenous people and foreign specialists attended the workshop. One of the outcomes of the workshop was the creation of the Russian Far Eastern Association for the Use of Non-Timber Forest Products.

For more information, please contact: The Russian Far Eastern Association for the Use of Non-timber Forest Products
Karl Marks Str 176, Khabatovsk, Russia 680031
Fax: +7-4212-338497;


Sarah Lloyd, The Siberian Forest Protection Project, Pacific Environment and Resources Center
1055 Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
Fax: +1-415-3328167;

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A study carried out in the Transvaal Lowveld area of South Africa argues for the potential of harvesting secondary products to stimulate local rural economy. The study area, the Transvaal Lowveld, is characterized by large areas under conservation management and by a high population density, concentrated in large rural villages, which is the result of resettlement programs under the apartheid rule.

Secondary products (SPs) are those obtained from natural resources in a given piece of land coincidental to the primary management objective. Thus, management can still adhere to the primary objective (in the study area, maintain biological diversity or maximize beef production), but at the same time certain products can be harvested such as dead wood, thatch grass, wild fruits, etc.

The most important SP in the area is the marula fruit (Sclerocarya birrea). Over 77 percent of the households use S. birrea and 2 percent sell marula products, mainly beer and kernels. Fruits are mainly harvested on communal lands and the verges of public roads. Very few private owners or conservation agencies permit harvesting. The study calculates that even at the lowest price for the fruits, the gross income per hectare from the harvest of marula fruits represents one quarter of that for commercial cattle farming in the area, or for state conservation areas. Depending on the estimates of average yield per hectare, the total annual value from harvesting S. birrea could be three times as high as that of from the two other land uses. This value can even increase if the potential value of kernels is added to that of the raw fruits. The kernels are sold in local villages at double the highest price paid for raw fruits. Clearly, the extraction of kernels represents a better development initiative than dealing solely with the fruits. The options for processing either the fruits or the kernels are many, including jam, fruit rolls, beer, oil, and animal fodder.

Other fruit species already widely utilized by the rural communities and for which there is some commercial resale include Strychnos spinosa, S. madagascarensis, and Parinari curatellifolia. Many more species are eaten for which no commercial markets currently exist.

Another important NWFP collected as a secondary product in the region is thatch grass. Harvesting is restricted to communal areas, the verges of public roads and a few privately owned farms that allow access to local communities, either paid labour with the crop being retained, or free access by the harvesters who remove the crop for personal use or resale. For some of the harvesters, cutting thatch once a year is the only employment they can obtain. Local demand for thatch grass is greater than the supply from communal lands and those commercial areas which currently permit harvesting.

There are many more SPs for which there is little or no information relating to demand and supply, precluding even very basic estimates of their value. These products include medicinal herbs (for which there is a huge urban demand), seeds/pods for decoration or jewellery, florists' materials, edible herbs, reeds, seeds for commercial nurseries, and grass and litter fodder for livestock from areas with low stock densities.

The development value of these products would be markedly higher if the raw materials were processed within the local communities. The next step would be to expand the supply of the processed goods with added value to wider markets, regionally, nationally and internationally. Much of the processing of the SPs currently harvested in the study area could be done with little or no technological requirements, and remain a home-based process. The range of SPs allows individuals and households to be engaged in a diversity of income-generating activities.

A policy which would favour the conversion of the potential value of SPs into a real cash flow would have a multiplier effect on the local economy. The primary beneficiaries would be the harvesters/entrepreneurs drawn from local communities, or in the case of private land, the landowner. Secondary beneficiaries would be various sectors of the local economy, through the creation of employment opportunities, boosting the transport sector and other retailing activities due to the increased cash flow.

Issues such as the ecological sustainability, sustainable harvest limits, land tenure and marketing should be carefully addressed by any policy aimed at fostering the development of these secondary products in the region. (Source: extracted and edited from Schackleton, C. 1996. Potential stimulation of local rural economies by harvesting secondary products: a case study from the Transvaal Lowveld, South Africa. Ambio 25(1):33-38. Charlie Schackleton's address is: DEA, P. Bag XII233, Nelspruit 1200, Republic of South Africa.)

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El endrino (Prunus spinosa) es un arbusto que crece en las formaciones de matorrales asociados a los bosque de diversos Quercus, Fagus, y de otras frondosas caducifolias de Europa.

La endrina, fruto drupáceo de sabor ácido y astringente, constituye un interesante ejemplo de un producto forestal no maderable (PFNM) en algunos países de Europa (España, Francia, Alemania), donde constituye la materia primera para la elaboración de diversos licores.

En el caso de España, y concretamente en la Comunidad Foral de Navarra, es tradicional la elaboración del pacharán, un licor suave obtenido a partir de la maceración de las endrinas. Se trata de un licor que goza de una gran popularidad en Navarra y también en las regiones vecinas del País Vasco, La Rioja y Aragón.

Existen varias plantas industriales que elaboran pacharán en España, la mayor parte de ellas en Navarra. El consumo de endrinas por las industrias superó en 1991 las 1 400 tonnes, para una producción de unos 9 millones de litros. Pero a la vez, existe un buen número de particulares y aficionados que recorren cada otoño los montes del norte de España para recoger las endrinas maduras y elaborar su propio pacharán casero.

Las crecientes necesidades de endrinas para la industria, así como el elevado coste de su recogida en el monte, condujeron a la importación de este fruto desde algunos países del este de Europa (Rumanía y Bulgaria). A diferencia de España, los bosques de estos países producen más endrinas y con más regularidad. Además, ofrecen costes más bajos de recolección.

La importación de endrinas genera diversas incertidumbres sobre el futuro de este comercio. Por ello, las industrias de Navarra están cooperando en el desarrollo de un programa de investigación con el objetivo de crear plantaciones de endrinos. Este programa se inició a finales de los años 80 y consiste en seleccionar variedades de endrinos silvestres con buenas características y organizar su cultivo en plantaciones. Para ello se está aprovechando todo el conocimiento disponible sobre el cultivo de otras especies próximas del género Prunus.

La inmediata aparición de plantaciones de endrino en Navarra supondrá una mejora en el aprovechamiento sostenible de este PFNM, al disminuir la demanda sobre sus existencias naturales en montes y bosques. (Contribución por Jacobo Ruiz Pedreira; Forestal Loblolly; Farinera Teixidor, 1,4,2. 17005 Girona; España.

Through the Web site, the bibliographic database of Forestal Loblolly "BIBLIOFOR" can be accessed, which includes references on Spanish NWFPs (cork, resin, Christmas trees and several fruits).

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A study to assess the economic value of non-timber forest products in the Knuckles Forest Reserve is one of the case studies reported in the Environmental Impact Assessment Manual prepared by FAO in 1996.

The Knuckles National Wilderness area is located in the Kandy and Matale districts, in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, and comprises areas both above and below an elevation of approximately 1 000 m. Over one thousand families live within the boundaries of the Wilderness Area and another 5 500 live outside the area but within one mile of the boundary.

Apart from being an important repository of biological diversity, including many endemic species of plants, the forest provides watershed protection and other environmental services.

The use of NTFPs is very common among the communities living in and around the Knuckles Forest area. The list of NTFPs used by the local population includes 16 species harvested for food, 2 spices, 8 species important as medicine, 13 species used for roping, 4 species used in matting, 3 species with agricultural uses, and bamboo. NTFP extraction, although more benign than other land uses which involve the conversion of natural forest, can result in degradation of the forest if the harvest levels are excessive.

The study attempted to assess the overall contribution of forest uses within the protected area to the local livelihood in terms of both cash income and subsistence production. Since not all NTFPs are marketed and, therefore, if only cash incomes were considered, their uses would be unrecorded and underestimated, various methods have been used for their valuation: price at nearest market, price at nearest city, willingness to pay, and opportunity cost.

The study showed that NTFPs account for 16 percent of the total income, but those actually marketed contributed only 5 percent of money income. On a per hectare basis, the forest area is estimated to generate an annual benefit from NTFP extraction of US$91.8.

The true importance of NTFPs in local livelihood can be captured by using non-market valuation techniques and considering the broad aspect of total income. NTFPs were also shown to make a proportionally greater contribution to the total income of lower income families. (Source: edited from Knowler, D & J. Lovett. 1996. Training manual for environmental assessment in forestry. FAO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific. Case study on Sri Lanka adapted from H.M. Gunatilake, D.M. Senaratne and P. Abeygunawardena. Role of non-timber forest products in the economy of peripheral communities of Knuckles National Wilderness Area of Sri Lanka: a farming system approach. Economic Botany 47(3):275-281.)

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Sudan, through its long history, has witnessed the fusion of many cultures, Pharaonic, Christian, and Islamic, with the indigenous cultures. This cross fertilization of cultures, together with the unique geographical position of the country, has given Sudan a vast heritage of knowledge and expertize in many fields of traditional medicine and notably in the field of medicinal plants.

Within the framework of a review of the status and uses of medicinal plants in Sudan, commissioned by FAO through its Regional Office for the Near East in Cairo, Egypt, recent and on-going research studies on medicinal plants were reviewed. The main studies were:

Medicinal plants of Sudan: the main objective of this on-going project is the documentation of the important economic and medicinal plants of Sudan. It covers all the medicinal plants and is edited in parts, each part covering a certain area of the country. Volumes already published are:

Under publication is the volume on North Kordofan. Molluscicidal activity of the Sudanese plants: the main objective of this project is to search for a molluscicide of plant origin that kills the snail (Bilharzia intermediate host). Since the beginning of the project in 1985, more than 800 species have been screened for their molluscicidal activity. A number of publications have been issued.

Antimicrobial activity of Sudanese plants: since the beginning of the project in 1985, more than 200 plants have been screened for their antimicrobial activity against different types of bacteria.

Anthelmintic medicinal plants: this project is also on-going. The main objective is to discover a plant which can be used safely against intestinal worms.

Other research projects include: Investigation of some aromatic plants with a view to their commercial utilization, Acclimatization, cultivation and standardization of medicinal plants, Antispasmodic plants, Antiprotozoan plants (anti-malarial, anti-leishmania, etc.), Formulation of crude plant drugs.

(Source: extracted and edited from Mahgoub Sherif Eltohami, Case study on medicinal and aromatic plants in Sudan, prepared for the FAO Regional Office for the Near East, Cairo, Egypt, November 1995.

Address of the author: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research Institute, MAPRI, National Centre for Research. P.O. Box 2004 Khartoum, Sudan.)

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Some important NWFP-producing forest plants
    Common Name       Botanical Name     Parts used     Purpose
A. Trees
    Balata     Manilkara bidentata     fruit; latex     edible; gum
    Balsa     Ochroma pyramidale     seed floss     stuffing pillows
    Black mangrove     Avicennia nitida     heartwood     contains lapachol
    Black sage     Cordia cylindrostachya
    Parinari campestris
    aphrodisiac properties
    Calabash     Crescentia cujete     fruit     ornaments
    Chenet     Melicocca bijuga     fruit     edible
    Cherry Guava     Eugenia spp.     fruit     preserves
    Grappo     Carapa guianensis     seeds     medicinal oil
    Fat Pork     Chrysobalanus icaco     fruit     edible
    Fustic     Chlorophora tinctoria     wood     khaki dye
    Hog Plum     Spondias     mombin fruit     jellies; preserve
    Incense     Protium spp.     dried seeds     necklaces
    Mahoe     Sterculia caribaea     bark     cordage
    Bois Doux     Inga spp.     fruit     edible
    Quassia, Bitter Ash     Quassia amara     wood, leaves     medicine, insecticide
    Red mangrove     Rhizophora spp.     bark     tanning material
    Rokoo jab     Ryania speciosa     stem, branch     insecticidal properties
    Sandbox     Hura crepitans     fruit     ornament
    Seaside grape     Coccoloba uvifera     fruit     edible/astringent
    Silk Cotton     Ceiba pentandra     seed floss     stuffing pillows
    Tirite     Ischnosiphon spp.     leaves, stem     handicrafts
B. Palms
    Cabbage palm     Roystonea spp.     leaf bud     edible
    Camwell     Desmoncus major     stem     basket making
    Carat     Sabal mauritiiformis     leaves     thatching
    Cocorite     Maximiliana caribaea     leaves, kernel     thatching/edible palm oil
    Gri-Gri     Bactris cuesa     fruit     edible
    Gru-Gru     Acrocomia aculeata     fruit, kernel
    leaf bud
    walking sticks
    Manac     Euterpe oleracea     leaf bud     edible
    Rouseau     Bactris major     stem     tatching
C. Vines, shrubs
    Supple Jack     Paullinia spp.     vines     fish, poison, baskets

Source: extracted from Trinidad and Tobago Country report for the International Conference and programme for Plant Genetic Resources, Leipzing, Germany, June 1996

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Les produits forestiers non-ligneux présentant un intérêt économique en Tunisie sont:

  • le liège: il existe un potentie de 90 000 hectares de forêts de Quercus suber existent en Tunisie. La production est actuellement de 9 000 tonnes par an. Le produit est entièrement acheté par trois sociétés nationales qui le transforment essentiellement en bouchons agglomérés;
  • les parcours: potentialités: 651 million d'unités fourragères;
  • l'alfa: potentialités: 60 000 tonnes actuellement transformées en pâte à papier par la seule usine de cellulose du pays, à Kasserine;
  • le romarin: potentialités de 346 000 hectares pour l'extraction de l'huile essentielle;
  • le myrte: potentialités de 40 000 hectares pour l'extraction de l'huile essentielle.
  • (Source: Country Report to the 10th Session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission, Sambonani, South Africa, 27 November - 1 December 1995.)

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    Since ancient times medicinal plants have been used as folk medicine in Anatolia, as can be seen from medicinal tables of drug formulations of the Hittit period. In those times, besides collection from the wild, some medicinal plants were also cultivated.

    In the rural areas of Anatolia many wild or cultivated medicinal plants are still used and can be found in special stores, the Aktars, which also sell plants from countries in the Far East. In the old cities and small towns elsewhere in Turkey, medicinal plants are widely used, but in modern towns this habit is practically unknown.

    In recent years, the new revived interest in plant-derived drugs has prompted some research work into an in-depth study of the medicinal plants of Turkey. Today, medicinal and aromatic plants are studied in the Faculties of Pharmacy, and courses on Pharmaceutical Botany, Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy are given at university level.

    The renewed interest in medicinal plants is linked to the fact that they provide cheap medical treatments, are free from the side-effects produced by synthetically produced drugs, have a combination of different effects and some active compounds can be obtained from herbal sources in a cheaper way than synthesizing them.

    Presently more than 500 plants are used for medicinal and aromatic purposes, particularly by the rural population. The most important species used as flavours are Allium sp., Origanum sp., Mentha sp., and Thymus sp. The extracts obtained by boiling the leaves and the flowers of Salvia sp. and Sideritis sp. in water are used to produce a very popular herbal tea "Adaçayi", especially in southern and western Anatolia.

    It is estimated that the value from the sale of medicinal plants in Turkey is higher than that of the main forest products (wood). In 1993, for example, Turkey earned US$50 million from the main forest products against US$80 million from medicinal plants.

    One of the problems faced by Turkey is the uncontrolled exploitation of medicinal plants for sale to foreign buyers, which is carried out without respecting the sustainable harvest capacity of the wild resources.

    Lack of knowledge in handling, storage and processing of medicinal plants is another area on which research should be focused. (Source: extracted and edited from Koyuncu,M. Case study on medicinal and aromatic plants in Turkey. Prepared for the FAO Regional Office for the Near East, Cairo, Egypt, December 1995.)

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    A case study on the promotion of non-timber forest products in Uganda was prepared for the International Course on the Development of National Forest Policies and Strategies organized by the Swedish Agency for Development Assistance (SIDA) in Sweden from 24 August to 11 October 1996. The case study was developed as a proposal for addressing an identified problem area for forestry development in the country, as part of the requirements for the training course.

    NTFPs provide economic and cultural benefits to many communities in Uganda. Informal reports from field staff, however, indicate that benefits such as craft-making, around the major city of Kampala, and medicinal values, such as the bark of Prunus africana, are currently underexploited, undervalued and constantly underestimated. Consequently, the contribution of NTFPs to forest sector benefits is considered insignificant. The low status accorded to these products is exemplified by not being included in the country's national forest policy, and the absence of specific management, utilization and conservation strategies.

    The objectives of the study are:

  • a realistic evaluation of the contribution of NTFPs to GDP to enhance their appreciation, elevate their status in the forest sector and attract more investment to the sub-sector;
  • a better understanding of their locations, quantities and regeneration, and the formulation of realistic and viable exploitation plans; strategic research and focused financing; exposure of the NTFPs to local and international markets to increase their income for both local communities and national budgets; production and consumption studies; publicizing NTFPs to increase their appeal to politicians, local communities, environmentalists and the general public, and thus their effective conservation.
  • The methodology foreseen to collect the data required includes various tools, and particularly participatory methods: literature review, questionnaires and semistructured interviews, participatory rural appraisal, visits and information requests.

    The tools: establishment of legal controls on management and utilization of NTFPs, which are currently lacking in the country; formation of a national association for NTFPs; training programmes (covering management, processing and marketing); workshops and seminars; forest policy review; production of guidelines and management plans; creation of a section of NTFPs in the Forest Department, FAO HQ; initiation of a newsletter on NTFPs; and research (on management, propagation and processing). (Source: edited from O. Akileng, M. Adata and W. Kasolo. Promotion of NTFPs: a case study from Uganda. Paper prepared for the Sida course on the development of national forest policies and strategies. 26 August - 11 October 1996, Sweden.)

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    The Vanuatu Forest Conservation Project has conducted research into the cultivation, extraction and marketing of sandalwood in Vanuatu. Sandalwood may be considered a minor export commodity in Vanuatu. Thirty-seven tonnes of sandalwood valued at about US$116 000 were exported in 1992, accounting for 0.6 percent of the total domestic export and being the seventh most important export commodity by value. In 1993, its export amounted to 80 tonnes, representing 1 percent of total exports.

    The results of the research were summarized in a paper (by Luca Tacconi) on sandalwood growth rates, heartwood yields and some economic aspects of sandalwood cultivation and trade at the national level. The paper was presented and discussed at a national sandalwood seminar, in November 1994, which was attended by Government departments, NGOs, local sandalwood planters, sandalwood buyers and other interested persons. (Source: Pacific Islands Forests and Trees, March 1996.)

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    Within the framework of the Zambia Forestry Action Programme (ZFAP), coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources with financial assistance from UNDP and technical support by FAO, the status of NWFPs in the country was reviewed. The objectives of the review were to survey the distribution of non-wood forest products in the country; analyze methods of harvesting; survey the utilization potential of NWFPs; assess Government policies on NWFPs; identify limiting factors in the development of NWFPs; and examine the marketing structure and performance of NWFPs.

    The major NWFPs identified are: bamboo, honey and beeswax, edible fruits (Uapaca kirkiana), mushrooms, natural plant dyes, reeds, gums (also Hevea brasiliensis plantations, seven years old, not yet in production), gum arabic, edible insects, fodder, medicine, soaps and cosmetics, biological fertilizers, game and ecotourism.

    The major problems found in the NWFP sector in Zambia are the lack of production skills and inadequate harvesting/processing methods; lack of investment capital, tools/equipment, (transport); inadequate Government policy/incentives; and lack of market information.

    The Task Force on NWFPs of the ZFAP has drafted some project ideas based on the priorities for NWFP development emerging from the review: Community environmental education; Bamboo and rattan cultivation; Apiculture development. (Source: A Task Force report on the status of non-wood forest products in Zambia, ZFAP Secretariat, Lusaka, Zambia, January 1996.)

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