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A. Rattan, almaciga and honey in Palawan, Philippines
B. NWFPs in Bulungan, E. Kalimantan, Indonesia
C. From extraction to production: the way ahead for NWFPs?
D. Prospects for future NWFP production

This final chapter attempts to provide some site-specific outlook profiles for selected NWFPs in the Asia-Pacific region. It is in the field, at sites like these, where the trends and scenarios discussed in the preceding chapters will unfold in the coming years.

The use of future scenarios has been suggested as a method for enhancing the policy-making process in local forest management. Such a method is intended to enable diverse stakeholders to collectively identify their future needs and to articulate appropriate policy responses. The importance of the process of generating future scenarios through stakeholder consultations - more than the product of the scenarios or the models used to produce them - is emphasized (Wollenberg 1997). This scenario setting process may be a very useful means of bringing together local NWFP stakeholders to jointly discuss problems and identify future management and policy options.

A. Rattan, almaciga and honey in Palawan, Philippines 7

7 Contributed by Andrew J. Mittelman, Consultant, Chiang Mai, Thailand, based on his work with IUCN in Palawan, Philippines.

Forest honey

Palawan contains some of the Philippines best preserved primary and secondary natural forests. Due to extensive deforestation elsewhere in the Philippines during the past several decades, Palawan's forests are one of the most important reservoirs for several of the country's most significantly traded and commercially valuable NWFPs including rattan, almaciga (resin from the dipterocarp Agathis philippinensis) and honey. The comparative abundance of these products in Palawan compared to elsewhere in the Philippines has resulted in their coming under increasingly intense exploitation pressure.

Under the Philippines' Minor Forest Products Act, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) lease areas containing key commercial NWFP species to commercial contractors. Concessionaires obtain sole legal rights to extract and transport NWFPs from these areas. In rare cases, concessions have been granted to local communities. Local communities, however, are at a distinct disadvantage in bidding for sites. This is because, compared to commercial contractors, they lack capital to post the required guarantee bonds and have considerable difficulty complying with complex concession application procedures.

The number of communities gaining rights to local NWFP resources has begun to increase, however, with the recent advent of DENR forest land tenure and usufruct related Administrative Orders. Threats to Filipino NWFP concessionaires resulting from apparent intent to devolve forests under a system of community-based forest management has resulted in increasing volume of NWFP harvest as current concessionaires anticipate possible loss of long-standing resource rights.

Under the NWFP concession system, maximum allowable harvest is being frequently exceeded due to corrupt practices among some of those responsible for monitoring and enforcement, as well as a general lack of effective monitoring controls. Local forest authorities are commonly unable to ensure that product collection is limited in extent to within concession area boundaries. Resource depletion within concessions is leading to expanded collection from gazetted protected areas. Raw material prices paid to local collectors are maintained at very low levels because concessionaires exercise monopoly control over NWFP resources. This impels collectors to maximize product off-take in an effort to meet their minimum income needs.

The Batak of Palawan

The Batak of Palawan are one of the few remaining unacculturated, indigenous forest-dwelling tribes in the Asia-Pacific region. They inhabit the deep recesses and upper elevations of river valleys west of St. Paul's National Park in Palawan, The contrast between the pristine forests surrounding Batak settlements and the denuded hillsides below - where ethnic Filipinos practice slash-and-burn agriculture - is stark. According to Eder (1997), 50 years ago, all forests in this area were managed by Batak and Tagbanua hunter-gatherers. Since the influx of Filipino refugees from islands despoiled by unsustainable agriculture, Palawan's lower-elevation landscapes have taken on a ravaged character now familiar in most Philippine watersheds.

The Batak consider themselves 'servants of the forest guardians'. Forest spirits, whose nature it is to jealously protect their natural abode, have assigned the Batak the obligation to live in harmony with and preserve their forests in return for the right to 'harvest its fruits'. Now, with St, Paul's Park being considered for World Heritage designation, the Batak have been threatened with expulsion. It is ironic that having been effective in sustaining the forests, their lives and culture through a complex system of religious beliefs, behavioural strictures and dependence on a diversity of NWFPs, the Batak are now at jeopardy because of policies being promoted by agencies who were primarily responsible for ravaging the Philippine forests during the past few decades.

In collaboration with local NGOs, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Biodiversity Conservation Network (BCN) have been working with forest-based tribal communities around the Park. The work focuses on demonstrating that, with rights to sustainably harvest and trade a range of NWFPs, tribal communities can constitute a vital component of a sustainable forest management system, which will ensure the long-term survival of one of the best preserved and most biodiverse forests in the Philippines. The activities implemented under the NIPAS Act represents a major reorientation of forest policy. This also reflect a growing trend throughout the region to provide tenure to forest area populations in return for their active involvement in sustainable forest management.

Unsustainable harvest levels for rattan, almaciga and honey is leading to significant resource degradation and a significant increase in the extraction and degradation of resources within primary forests and National Park boundaries. Increasing influx of migrant collectors unfamiliar with sustainable management techniques is exacerbating the rate and extent of resource depletion. Unsustainable harvest practices are also being increasingly applied by local and indigenous collectors competing with outsiders for the same set of limited resources. Intensifying competition for NWFP resources is exacerbating inter-group and ethnic social tensions.

Local communities have begun to organize in response to opportunities created by a number of Department Administrative Orders and Presidential Decrees (such as the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act or NIPAS) that legitimize local people's rights to local forest lands and NWFP resources. However, the implementation of these alternatives has been extremely slow. Meanwhile, lobbying efforts have resulted in controversial legal interpretations that support continuing concession rights to NWFPs by outside entrepreneurs.


Rattan is being clear-cut at an increasing number of sites, and the competition between migrant labourers (brought in as work crews by concessionaires) and local collectors has intensified dramatically. Smaller canes previously maintained by local collector-managers to ensure regeneration and sustainable supply are being removed with increasing frequency. Intense pressure being placed on the resources by outsiders, as well as by local people, has led indigenous collectors to abandon sustainable management practices. With resources being depleted nationally, some finished product businesses (wicker furniture) have shut down or relocated elsewhere in the region - namely Malaysia and Indonesia - where raw material supplies are more abundant and readily available.

Degradation scenario

Continuation of the present situation will result in ongoing degradation of rattan resources. If permitted to continue during the next 5-10 years, commercial supplies could be completely harvested from some concession areas. This would encourage more intensive exploitation of rattan outside of concession area boundaries: within parks and other protected areas and watersheds. Principle causal factors predicating such a scenario include:

· Continued slow pace of resource transfer to local communities comprising traditional collectors and forest user groups.

· Continued interpretation of laws and regulations that permit current commercial contractors to maintain control over NWFP resources.

· Prolonged anticipation by NWFP contractors of their impending loss of resource rights, encouraging maximum harvest prior to transition to local community control.

· Continued inability to ensure compliance with DENR sustainable resource management regulations.

· No or inadequate steps taken to intervene in regenerating damaged resources.

Sustainable management scenario

Legal guidelines for sustainable management associated with the current concession law are mostly adequate to ensure sustainable resource management. These guidelines specify the maximum allowable harvest within sustainable levels and also require replanting. While the process for determining sustainable management guidelines should be modified to enable greater site-specificity, the principle problem now is that existing guidelines are not enforced. To some extent, this is the result of the prevailing patronage system between concessionaire and government officials who are responsible for monitoring the concessions. Moreover, DENR lacks adequate staff and budget to enforce the regulations effectively. Were existing regulations enforced as written, the future sustainable management scenario would improve significantly.

Many local collectors have long depended on rattan to provide a substantial portion of their annual income. The new legislation enabling local communities to obtain rights to manage and market rattan would, if applied, provide strong incentives for sustainable management. Communities, however, require assistance in formulating sustainable management plans. There are few staff currently responsible for providing such assistance in the field. At the same time, existing field staff generally lack the skills required to facilitate local level sustainable resource management planning. Appropriate technical expertise is also needed to assist local communities in determining what management arrangements are required, under a diverse range of site conditions, to ensure that rattan resources are sustainably managed.

Policies and interventions that would support sustainable management of rattan in Palawan include:

· Devolve rights to harvest and transport rattan to local communities.

· Assist local communities to develop sustainable management plans and apply for concessions for local rattan resources.

· Remove requirements for up-front payment of guarantees and simplify application procedures.

· Strengthen capacity to monitor compliance with sustainable resource management agreements and re-certify harvest privileges as reward for proven compliance.

· Provide technical support and subsidies for local production of rattan seedlings, rattan plantation development and enrichment planting.

· Provide assistance to local rattan collector guilds to obtain higher prices for raw materials through direct marketing.

· Assist development of local small-scale rattan crafts and finished product manufacture.

· Explore potential to increase local agricultural production and alternative income generation to reduce dependence on income from forest products.


Agathis philippinensis is among a number of forest tree species protected under Philippines law. It grows to a very large diameter, sometimes in excess of 2 meters, and is a source of valuable timber. The tree continues to be cut illegally despite its national protection status and a total logging ban in Palawan enacted 5 years ago. Illegal logging is a significant threat to the species, which has nearly disappeared in some areas.

Historically, traditional almaciga harvest by indigenous collectors was largely non-invasive. Resin trees could be exploited indefinitely by collecting only natural exudate. Low intensity tapping appears to have originated with in-migration by ethnic lowland Filipinos. Infrequent tapping by shallow incision, when properly managed, is also a potentially sustainable management practice. The reduction of the number of trees, intensified competition for fewer resources, increasing material expectations among collectors, and depression of raw material prices by concessionaires have combined to increase invasive and destructive almaciga tapping practices. Inadequate monitoring by DENR staff has enabled the trend to persist so long that the almaciga resource throughout most of Palawan appears to be in serious jeopardy today.

Degradation scenario

Almaciga tappers - usually ethnic as opposed to tribal Filipinos - are widely engaged in unsustainable management practices characterized by deep circumferential tapping, which frequently provides a conduit for fungal infection leading to tree mortality. Incision followed by burning to increase resin flow is becoming increasingly common, and is hastening the demise of many trees. If unsustainable NWFP management and illegal logging are permitted to persist, it appears that Agathis philippinensis could be nearly depleted from most of Palawan's forests during the course of the next decade.

Sustainable management scenario

Almaciga trees can be propagated in nurseries and replanted in natural forest areas where ecological niche conditions are suitable. It is essential that greater controls be placed on the exploitation of remaining trees. There is not much hope for this at present, given the current lack of capacity by DENR to control illegal logging and tapping. If properly enforced, the existing regulations regarding the logging ban and almaciga concessionaires would be adequate for ensuring sustainable resource management. The exception is in areas where the resource has been nearly depleted, in which case, a moratorium or at least strict limitations on tapping are required to ensure almaciga survival.

Indigenous cultural minorities, especially the Batak tribe, some remote Tagbanua forest-dwelling enclaves, and remaining traditional Pala'wano tribes, should be given exclusive responsibility for managing Palawan's remaining almaciga resources. Improved enforcement of the logging ban by responsible DENR staff is also vital.

The following policies and interventions would support the sustainable management scenario for almaciga:

· Improve surveillance and interdiction to significantly reduce illegal logging.

· Survey current status of Agathis philippinensis and design sustainable management and rehabilitation plans based on site-specific conditions.

· Devolve responsibility for managing almaciga extraction to local (mostly indigenous cultural) communities.

· Set aside a system of intact almaciga stands for strict conservation and natural seed production.

· Provide sustainable management training prior to tapper certification and dedicate specific trees and stands to user groups - holding them responsible for employing sustainable management practices prior to periodic re-certification.

· Assist local collectors to improve the quality class of resin extracted by using simple low-cost appropriate technologies to increase product value and, hopefully, thereby reduce harvest levels.

· Undertake a programme of Agathis reforestation in areas where natural stands have been depleted.

· Support development of alternative income to reduce dependence on forest resources.

· Promote market linkages between local communities and 'natural paint and varnish' producers willing to pay a premium for high quality almaciga resin.

Forest honey

As throughout the Asia-Pacific region, forest honey has long been valued in the Philippines for its medicinal properties. However, with massive deforestation during the past two decades, the availability of pure forest honey has been significantly reduced. As with rattan and almaciga, forest honey is among the products listed for concessions in the Minor Forest Products Act. Collectors are paid only a small portion of the actual market value of their forest honey, with the majority of profits accruing to concessionaires.

Forest honey is of two main types depending on the bee species. Potiokan hives are found in the forest canopy. Collection of this honey requires both skill and courage because hives are often located more than 50 meters above the ground. Potiokan is collected almost exclusively by tribespeople. Recent assessment of collection methods indicated that, overall, collection is proceeding on a sustainable basis. However, ongoing tribal deculturation - associated with reduced fears about retribution by forest spirits in response to destructive behaviours - is also leading to more unsustainable harvest practices.

For nigoan honey, hives are located in decomposing logs on the forest floor. Lowland honey collectors (ethnic Filipinos and acculturated tribes) are less aware and concerned with sustainable harvest techniques for nigoan. Consequently, its availability appears to be decreasing at a rapid rate, particularly during the past decade.

For both types of honey, there is no monitoring of harvest methods applied, and monitoring of the shipment volume from forest concession to market distribution points is similarly lax.

The significant reduction in raw material availability has led honey wholesalers to mix small amounts of forest honey with other additives. These products continue to be sold as 100 percent pure honey, however, since the Philippines Food and Drug Administration does not appear to check their content. Consumers appear to recognize that the available products are not pure honey. A recent survey of Manila shoppers indicated that available forest honey products are considered inferior in quality. Consumers recognize that retail prices are well below what would possible were the packaged products actually 100 percent pure. Pilot marketing of 100 percent pure honey at a much higher price (4 or more times that of other products available) also demonstrated strong demand for the pure product. While the pilot marketing provided much higher profits to tribal collectors, and was linked with efforts to negotiate forest protection agreements, such direct marketing schemes are technically illegal under current Philippines forestry laws.

Degradation scenario

The current forest honey harvest in Palawan is not nearly as threatening to the resource base as compared to rattan and almaciga. There is, however, the threat that if NWFP-dependent people will be placed under increasing financial stress due to continuing degradation and reduced income from rattan and almaciga. Under this scenario, greater pressure will then be placed on honey resources, leading to their degradation as well. Household economic strategies among poor NWFP dependent families are integrated. Reduction of income from one source tends to create greater pressure on other income sources as families seek to compensate for deficits. Many NWFP collectors in Palawan depend on the entire range of commercial NWFPs for income. The ability or inability to ensure sustainable management and income from rattan and almaciga will bear directly on sustainable honey management.

It is also important to note that the negative impacts would not be confined to honey production. Decline in honey bees would also impact a wide range of forest and agricultural plant species that depend on the bees for pollination. Unsustainable honey harvest generally involves destruction (as opposed to smoking) of hives. Were this practice to continue increasing, it could significantly impair the important role of honey bees as plant pollinators.

Sustainable management scenario

Lowland (ethnic) Filipinos in Palawan have only recently become involved in commercial-scale honey harvest. They do so with little regard for sustainable harvest practices or management of the resources. This group generally enjoys much greater access to agricultural land and income than their indigenous neighbours do. Therefore, it seems logical to provide the more impoverished indigenous communities - who are also the more responsible honey managers - with exclusive rights to the honey resources.

Existing regulations concerning honey harvest are not very clear as to what is and what is not permissible. Modified regulations should specify techniques that are relatively non-invasive, and which do not result in the destruction of honey bees. Traditional usufruct rights among tribal groups appear adequate for ensuring equitable access as well as sustainable management. Direct marketing arrangements could significantly increase the collectors' profits per unit of honey sold. This would help to facilitate agreements to develop and implement sustainable resource management plans, as well as set up prohibitions on collecting honey from protection and strict conservation areas. Professional ecologists should be involved in helping to determine the location and extent of strictly protected areas.

Policies and interventions to support sustainable management of forest honey include the following options:

· Devolve rights of access, harvest and transport for honey to indigenous cultural communities (leaving open the possibility of exceptions in cases where other groups can demonstrate long-term involvement in honey resource management).

· Provide support for forest user groups, especially those resident at protected area boundaries, to develop a range of income-generating options to reduce the environmental impact of any one activity.

· Establish and monitor compliance with maximum honey harvest levels, on a site-specific basis. (These should re-calculated annually based on rapid assessment of the number of available hives.)

· Provide collectors with management guidelines using sustainable indigenous management practices as a basis for their design.

· Provide opportunities for skilled indigenous managers to train others in sustainable forest honey harvest techniques.

· Encourage the Food and Drug Administration to establish and implement a grading system for honey, and prohibit false product labelling.

· Assist honey collectors with simple methods to reduce honey product moisture and improve shelf life. Facilitate arrangements with marketing agents for national (and international) distribution of premium-quality, high-priced product, using this as one incentive to leverage the development and implementation of community-based sustainable resource management and biodiversity conservation in Palawan.

B. NWFPs in Bulungan, E. Kalimantan, Indonesia 8

8 Contributed by Esther Katz, Anthropologist, ORSTOM-CIFOR, Bogor, Indonesia

Historical perspective
Animals and birds
Gutta percha
Illipe nuts
Future questions

This subchapter examines the NWFP trends in the area designed as the Bulungan Research Forest, which has been allocated by the Indonesian government to the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) for research purposes. The research forest covers 303,000 hectares in Bulungan district, East Kalimantan, between the Malinau and Bahau rivers, adjacent to the Kayan-Mentarang National Park. It includes the watersheds of the Tubu and part of the Mentarang. Malinau is the main town of the area. Tarakan is the closest coastal city.

Historical perspective

From the forests of Borneo within Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, various NWFPs, especially very valuable ones, have been traded for many centuries. The island has been suffering an intense process of deforestation for the last 30 years, but where forest remains, as in the Bulungan district, NWFPs are still a main source of income for local inhabitants. They extract many products from the forest, but only a few are or have been significant for external market trade. Actors of different ethnic backgrounds have been involved in this trade.

Borneo has been in contact with China and India for about 2,000 years. Since at least the 11th century, and more intensively since the 15th century, the Chinese have been the main international traders of NWFPs in Borneo. From the 19th century, they have settled in remote inland locations. Europeans probably became involved in the trade after the 17th century, but few of the products were exported to Europe. Arab traders became more active in the 19th century (Peluso 1983, King 1993).

The main intermediaries have been the Malays - who had established sultanates on the coast since the 15th century - and the Bugis, sailors and traders from South Sulawesi who settled in the coastal harbours. Malays and Bugis continue to play a role in this trade which is still dominated by ethnic Chinese. The inland inhabitants, collectively called 'Dayak', a term that includes numerous ethnic groups, have been involved in different ways in collecting and trading NWFPs in exchange for valuable external goods (Peluso 1983, King 1993). The Punan and Penan, who have a traditional economy based on hunting and gathering, are major NWFP collectors (Sellato 1989, Puri 1997).

In Bulungan, as in the rest of Borneo, people of different ethnic groups live close to each other, sometimes in the same villages, and are continually interacting with each other. Punan, Putuk (Lun Dayeh), Abai, Merap, Kenyah, Murut and Berusu people all collect NWFPs and sometimes compete for the same resources. Their staple food is rice. In some villages, they also grow commercial crops such as coffee and cocoa, but most groups claim that forest products are their main source of cash income. The Punan, moreover, claim that they would still be able to subsist entirely from the forest, if necessary, by collecting fruit, wild tubers and processing starch from the sago palm. It is among the Punan that NWFP collection is most important. The majority of data presented here come from Punan Tubu informants living near Malinau and in the upper Tubu.

Animals and birds

The Punan have heard from their parents or grandparents that one of the most valuable forest products was rhinoceros horn. But the rhinoceros (Rhinoceros spp.) is now extinct in that area. They say that 'it was fairly easy to follow, as it does not run very fast, and often goes along the rivers; but it only bears one child at a time, so it disappeared'. Rhinoceros horn has been sought by the Chinese for over 1,000 years, and was imported from Asia and Africa. It is supposed to be an aphrodisiac and have medicinal properties (Wheatley 1959). It was still traded in the 1930s, at least in Sarawak (Beavitt 1992).

Bezoars (gall stones) from monkeys (Presbytis hosei) and porcupines (Hystrix brachyura) are another highly priced animal product. They are also used in Chinese medicine (Beavitt 1992). Both are now rarely found in the areas near Malinau that have been logged, but Punan people living upriver still look for them. Logging is reported to destroy porcupine holes. Moreover, bezoars are only found in one porcupine out of ten. According to Punan people, bezoars are presently sold in Malinau for the price of gold. Upstream Punan prefer to exchange them for valuable items such as gongs or Chinese jars.

The edible nests of the cave swiftlet (Collocalia spp.) are a common ingredient in Chinese medicine. They are also served as birds' nest soup. Difficult and dangerous to collect, they are found in caves located along the Malinau River, in the territory of different ethnic groups. They are traded in Malinau or Tarakan and also fetch very high prices. In several cases, the caves used to be guarded by local villagers but, in recent years, concessions have been given for use of the caves. This measure, which was meant to protect the resource, is in fact causing its depletion. Short-term concessions, given only for one year, promote holders to harvest as much as they can. Moreover, noise or the presence of people disturbs the local birds - logging, for instance, disturbs their habitat. This is not the case with the species found in Java, that can nest close to houses. According to a Tarakan trader, a high proportion of the Indonesian production presently comes from 'domestic' birds.

Puri (1992) mentions for Kayan-Mentarang National Park the trade of song birds of at least three species; live hornbills, monkeys and bears; hornbill feathers and bills; antlers; bear gall stones, teeth and claws. It is very likely that these animals or animal parts are traded the same way in Bulungan.


Camphor trees (Dryobalanops aromatica) - kapur in Bahasa Indonesia - are found on Borneo, in Peninsular Malaysia and on the north-west coast of Sumatra (around the harbour of Barus). The white camphor crystals, called 'Barus camphor' or 'Borneo camphor' - kapur barus in Bahasa Indonesia - are found inside some old trees, whereas other trees produce only oil. The crystals result from the oxidation and solidification of camphor oil (Janse 1909). Camphor has been traded as a luxury product since the 6th century to China, India and the Middle-East (Burkill 1966). It has been used as a medicine, incense and as protection from moths.

As the formation of camphor only occurs in some trees, it is quite hard to find. Moreover, it is difficult to know before cutting the tree whether there are camphor crystals inside or not. Punan people over the age of 50 were able to give some precise information about how to look for camphor, although it seems that they did not look for it themselves, as the trade is over. They say that to find camphor crystals, some external signs can be seen, but luck is an important factor in finding these trees, and it can be revealed in premonitory dreams. Accounts from the beginning of the century mention that, in Malaysia, shamans were in charge of finding camphor-containing trees through divination; only a secret language could be used when cutting the tree (Skeat 1900).

Since the 6th century, Dryobalanops camphor has been exploited and traded, but probably in very small quantities. Only some old trees were cut, so enough time was probably allowed for younger trees to regenerate. By the 16th century, the Chinese found other sources of camphor in Cinnamomum camphora and Blumea balsamifera, which have been cultivated in China and Japan (Wheatley 1959). 'Chinese camphor' is extracted from chips of Cinnamomum and from leaves of Blumea. It can be produced in a more sustainable way, in bigger quantities and at a much lower cost than Dryobalanops (Baillon 1884). Nevertheless it does not have the same chemical properties and medicinal uses; Borneo camphor, used as a tonic and aphrodisiac, was more highly valued (ibid.).

At the end of the 19th century, there was a high demand for camphor in China as in Europe, for medicine and to make celluloid. As Borneo camphor was ten times more expensive than Chinese camphor (ibid.), its use was probably restricted to medicine. But the pressure was increasing on Dryobalanops trees. Dutch foresters became concerned about the sustainability of camphor production and experimented with cultivation of the tree (Oever 1911) and improving of the extraction techniques (Van Breda et al. 1906).

However, consumers turned towards Chinese camphor and, after World War II, towards synthetic products (Howes 1949). The reason why Borneo camphor was almost totally abandoned is not clear. It could be linked with the tree's use as timber. Burkill (1966) noted that, in the thirties, the demand for camphor timber and its growing value 'restrict the amount of camphor available, and while the price remains high, that price is partly maintained by the very small output. There is no chance of larger trade in it, and a greater output would destroy the partly fictitious value that it has.

Punan people of Bulungan say they used to sell camphor in the Dutch colonial time (until 1945) for a price equivalent to that of bezoar stones. A Malinau trader also associated camphor trade with the colonial period. Nevertheless it might have lasted a little longer. A Tarakan trader exported camphor to Hong Kong until 1980, but then the demand stopped because the buyers preferred to get cheaper supplies from China. The amount he was exporting then was 100 kg per month, or 1.2 tons per year. This amount is actually very high, because in the years 1918-1925, when there was still a high demand for camphor, the amount exported from Bulungan did not exceed 50 kg per year and 1 ton per year was the most exported from the west coast of North Sumatra (Heyne 1927). At the end of the 19th century, only 500 kg per year were exported from the whole island of Borneo (Baillon 1884). In the 1930s, Dryobalanops had already become more important for timber than for camphor (Burkill 1966), and presently in Borneo, it is one of the most logged species, along with meranti (Shorea spp.), ironwood (Eusyderoxylon zwageri) and Agathis. It is quite likely that the camphor still traded in 1980 came from loggers, and no longer from local collectors.

Camphor seems to have been produced in a sustainable way at least over 10 centuries because only the very old trees were cut and small quantities were traded at a very high price. Nevertheless when the demand increased, its sustainability was questioned. Before any solution was found, Borneo camphor was partly replaced by Chinese camphor, then its demand decreased significantly after the production of synthetic camphor became much cheaper. Its exploitation as a timber might be expected to be even less sustainable, as trees of a smaller diameter are also cut.


Eaglewood, aloewood or agarwood (Aquilaria spp.) - gaharu in Bahasa Indonesia - is similar to camphor in that the tree must be cut to be exploited, and not all eaglewood trees contain the fragrant substance, probably produced by a fungal infection. Finding it also depends on luck, and the process is surrounded with mystery and adventure. As Momberg et al. (in press) point out, the collectors actually seem to be attracted to this situation. In the same way that a special language was required when cutting camphor, Punan collectors avoid talking in a coarse manner or about women when looking for gaharu, and must be silent when cutting it. They believe that the eaglewood tree is inhabited by a spirit. They foreshadow the finding of gaharu by the sound of a forest cicada or by premonitory dreams, as for camphor. If it takes too long to find gaharu, they make an offering to a spirit of the earth. This type of offering was possibly performed for camphor, and is also performed for hunting.

Like camphor, gaharu has also been exported for many centuries. By the 12th century, it was already one of the most important aromatics to be exported from Southeast Asia to China, where it was also used for medicine. During that era, it apparently came from other parts of Indonesia (Wheatley 1959), but it is also possible that it came from Borneo without the Chinese traders knowing (Peluso 1983). Arab traders became more involved in the 19th century. The product was never really of interest in the European markets (ibid.).

In Bulungan, it seems that gaharu has always been collected, but its importance increased in the mid-1960s. Punan people suggest that it had always been widely traded in the coastal areas, but as it became progressively less available in those areas, traders looked for it in the interior. The demand increased very significantly at the end of the 1970s, when the supply of high-quality gaharu from Vietnam and Cambodia was cut because of the political situation (Peluso 1983). At the same time, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates experienced the oil boom, which generated high incomes and an increase in the demand for gaharu (Puri 1997, personal communication). Immigrant workers from neighbouring Middle Eastern countries (Yemen, for instance) also benefited from the oil boom, and started spending more money on luxury products such as gaharu (Lambert 1995, personal communication).

In the interior of East Kalimantan, there was a so called 'gaharu rush' in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Not only were local people involved, but full expeditions of sponsored professional collectors - usually groups of 15 to 30 men, sometimes dropped by helicopters and sponsored by big ethnic Chinese and Bugis traders - participated in this gaharu hunt. At that time, about 70 per cent was exported to the Middle East, and 30 per cent to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan (Yamada 1995), with a slight decrease following the Gulf War (Momberg et al. in press).

As a result of the 'gaharu rush', this product became much harder to find at the beginning of the 1990s in the Kayan Mentarang National Park as well as in the Bulungan area. Before 1990, the Punan living close to Malinau could find gaharu in about a week, while it now takes them about a month. Gaharu extraction presents problems of sustainability and conflicts over appropriation of resources. Punan and Putuk from Bulungan, as well as the inhabitants of Kayan Mentarang have been complaining about outsiders seeking gaharu on their traditional lands and demand re-establishment of traditional land tenure. They claim to exploit their own resources in a sustainable way. In the case of gaharu, they observe different signs that can indicate whether the tree contains the fragrant product. They cut small pieces of the tree, and fell it only if they are sure there is gaharu inside. Outsiders tend to cut all trees, even if they may not contain the fragrant resin (Momberg et al. in press).

The World Wildlife Fund team that has been working in Kayan Mentarang thinks that re-establishment of traditional land tenure would be the best solution to protect local resources. Conflicts over appropriation of gaharu have occurred between local people and professional collectors, as well as between neighbouring villages. In May 1997, an Abai man from Lumbis district was killed by Putuk people on their territory and a peace ceremony had to be performed in August 1997 in order to defuse the situation. Threats of murder in the forest have occurred as well in Kayan Mentarang during the gaharu rush (Momberg et al. in press).

By 1995, traders stopped funding high-cost expeditions in Kalimantan (Soehartono 1997, personal communication). They turned instead to Irian Jaya. Supposedly, Irian species are less fragrant, but, according to Singapore traders, the highest qualities, now very rare in Kalimantan, are still found there. At the same time, some traders started establishing eaglewood plantations in different parts of Indonesia. They have not yet mastered the process of tree infection to obtain the fragrant substance, but they hope to succeed in the near future (Soehartono 1997).

Several scenarios could occur for eaglewood: its depletion in natural forests, caused by deforestation or by excessive extraction (but if it stops being extracted in an area, it might also regenerate); its replacement by a cultivated product with no more benefit for local people; or its semi-domestication by local smallholders.

Gutta percha

Gutta percha is the latex from Palaquium spp. and Payena leeri. It went through an amazing boom between 1840 and 1915, as it became an essential product for European industry, in particular for the coating of submarine cables. It was close to being depleted when it was replaced by synthetic products. Cultivation experiments conducted by Dutch foresters started producing results after the boom (Potter 1996). Gutta percha is also similar to camphor and gaharu because the tree must be felled to collect the latex if large quantities are needed. It was also high adventure to find it, requiring long and dangerous expeditions and many people put themselves in conflict and competition in its search. But as it was a newly discovered product and as all the trees contain latex, it was not surrounded by the same mystery and beliefs as camphor and gaharu (ibid.).

Punan people still remember that it was very valuable and very hard to find at one time, but now it is found fairly easily. If only a small quantity is needed, it is not necessary to fell the tree, it can just be tapped. Local people use the latex to glue machete handles or make gong hammers. They call it getah merah ('red latex') or getah parang ('machete latex') in Bahasa Indonesia. There is still a very small local market based on one trader in Malinau. Small quantities of gutta percha are still exported from Indonesia to make golf balls, with no indication of its provenance (Coppen 1995). It possibly comes from a 300-hectare plantation located in West Java (Michon, personal communication).

Illipe nuts

Illipe nuts, fatty nuts from various species of Shorea (cf. Michon infra), called tengkawang in Bahasa Indonesia, were collected around the Malinau area until 1975. They were never cultivated as in West Kalimantan (Peters 1996b), the main production centre, and did not have a local use. They were sold in Malinau to ethnic Chinese traders and exported to Holland. As the price has declined, people no longer collect them in Bulungan. The trees are used as timber.


Damar was a major NWFP in the area until the 1960s. There was damar batu from a red meranti (probably a Shorea), damar mata kucing (probably from Shorea), and, above all, damar daging from Agathis trees (which is called copal in the Philippines). Punan people say that it was their most constant source of income at that time. They did not tap the trees, just collected the resin at different heights of the trunk. As many people looked for it, they often had to go far and to climb high to gather it, and then to carry it in baskets over long distances. However they could barter a full basket of damar for a canoe full of manufactured goods. As its price is now very low, nobody is interested in collecting it anymore. Many trees full of resin can be found in the upstream forests, but as Agathis and Shorea are good timber trees, they have been logged all around Malinau.


In Borneo, rattan has always been used by local people, who are very skilful in making mats and baskets. Rattan is also used to for binding purposes. For instance, houses were made out of boards tied together with rattan. It is still used in this way where nails are not easily accessible. Hunted animals are often carried on the back with the help of rattan cords.

Punan people eat the bitter-tasting young rattan shoots as a vegetable. The upstream Punan still commonly go on family expeditions into the forest for several days or weeks. The women collect rattan while the men hunt for animals or look for gaharu. They occasionally sell or barter mats and baskets for manufactured goods with downstream people and traders. These products are less commonly made in villages around Malinau. In Malinau itself, one small artisan makes rattan furniture for the local market, and buys it from villagers in very small quantities.

Rattan has always been traded in the area, but it became more important in the late 1970s. When rattan started reaching a higher price, many outsiders also went into the forests to collect it. It became more and more difficult to find, as happened with gaharu. Since the prices collapsed in 1989 as a result of an export ban, rattan collection declined, and it is growing abundantly again.

Future questions

From the foregoing descriptions, it is clear that NWFPs have been playing very crucial and diverse roles in the lives of people in Bulungan Research Forest, East Kalimantan, as well as for people in other forest communities in Indonesia and throughout the region. But more has to be understood about indigenous practices, contribution of NWFPs to local people's income, as well as the frequently observed boom-and-bust nature of NWFP-based local economies. Moreover there are great uncertainties about the future as 'development' penetrates into these remote areas. Local inhabitants have good abilities for adaptation (Kaskija 1995), but how much choice will be left to them?

How will the NWFP trends and scenarios unfold in areas such as Bulungan in the future? Many questions arise. Will highly valuable NWFP resources be completely depleted with growing demand and commercialization or with heavy logging and replacement of the forest by plantations? Will the resources that are almost depleted be abandoned, and therefore be allowed to regenerate naturally? Can indigenous knowledge about sustainable practices for NWFP management, harvest and regeneration - if they really are sustainable - be used to improve future activities? Will certain NWFPs be domesticated and cultivated outside the natural forest? Will government enact policies that will enable and stimulate community-based management of NWFPs? Will there be re-establishment of traditional land tenure? How will conflicts about land and NWFP resources be managed? Or will local people have to totally change their living strategies?

Some of these questions will form the basis for research by Indonesian and CIFOR colleagues in the years to come. Hopefully, some answers will be found to these pressing questions.

C. From extraction to production: the way ahead for NWFPs? 9

9 Contributed by Genevieve Michon, Ecologist, ORSTOM-ICRAF, Bogor, Indonesia

Harvesting from plantations: a common scenario?
Evolution from extraction to production

Harvesting from plantations: a common scenario?

A very likely future scenario for managing NWFPs for which commercial demand is strong is the evolution from 'extraction' - tapping natural stocks - towards 'production', controlling natural production processes, usually through cultivating and domesticating wild species.

Domestication and cultivation of NWFPs is not a new perspective. Some authors recognize that, at least in the tropics, agriculture itself developed through the transfer of forest trees producing essential materials - such as tannins for fishing nets or bark fibres for clothes - to domesticated environments nearby dwellings (Sauer 1952, Barrau 1967).

However, NWFP production really expanded during the colonial period. Products such as oil palm, rubber, cinchona and cocoa left their forest homes to enter plantation agriculture. The model chosen for this transfer was that of open-field production. Colonial estates created huge areas of specialized, highly artificial and high-yielding fields of trees. One of the results of that process was that it assigned little, if any, value to the wild relatives scattered in the forest, and deprived local collectors of some of their main economic activities.

After a period when there was relatively little economic attention on NWFPs, evolution towards large-scale production is again re-emerging for some commercially valuable products. In Southeast Asia, spurred by multi-million dollar trade revenues, rattan plantations are multiplying in Sabah, Java and Kalimantan. In this production process, the rattan resource escapes not only from the forest, but also from the hands of indigenous collectors, to the benefit of either private firms or government enterprises.

Experimental production is also emerging for high-value resources such as bird's nests from artificial caves in Java and eaglewood (gharu) from controlled planted-and-infected populations. These enterprises involve more wealthy outsiders than local farmers and, indirectly but surely, threaten the profitability of indigenous harvesting practices.

These examples of commercial NWFP production raise several important questions:

· Does NWFP production through domestication and cultivation have to be exclusively done outside of a forest environment? In specialized, monocultural, highly artificial open fields borrowed from modern agricultural models?

· Can forest collectors and smallholder farmers retain the main role as managers as well as beneficiaries in NWFP production? Or will NWFP collectors and farmers be increasingly marginalized in the transfer towards plantation production of commodities that they managed in the wild or natural state?

· The main question can be formulated in a more simple and direct way: Is there only one "good" model available for the production of NWFP resources?

Throughout history, smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia have proved to be skilled managers of forests and forest resources in the wild. But it is not often acknowledged that they have also been major actors in the production and domestication of these forest resources. And that they have, in this field, shown a fertile imagination.

Farmers: the original domesticators

Among the commercial products produced through various forms of 'domestication' and 'cultivation' by indigenous people in Southeast Asia, spices and stimulants might be the oldest. Tea, a small tree of forest undergrowth, leaves of which were traded in China as early as 3 millennia ago, was brought into cultivation by local farmers from northern Burma towards south-eastern China. Spurred by trade with China, cultivation of clove - a medium-sized tree in the forest sub-canopy in the Moluccas - developed locally between the third and first centuries, BC Nutmeg was also domesticated in the Moluccas long before the Portuguese merchants reached the area.

Most examples of cultivated commercial forest resources occurred within the last two to three centuries, and remain very localized. Cinnamon production through planted gardens was established two centuries ago in the central highlands of Sumatra (Michon & Bompard 1987, Aumeeruddy 1993). Benzoin is one of the oldest traded NWFPs in the region. A fragrant resin used for incense and perfume preparations, benzoin comes from Styrax spp., which was developed as a fallow crop in Lao PDR (Kashio 1994), and in more complex and permanent agroforestry systems in North Sumatra about two centuries ago (Yoshida 1971, Simanullang 1988, Watanabe 1990).

For at least 150 years in western Borneo, swidden farmers have established highly diversified tree gardens that integrate oil-producing dipterocarps. Tengkawang, or illipe nut, is a fatty nut produced by roughly 15 species of Shorea, which is used as a substitute for cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolates, margarine and cosmetics (Momberg 1992, Sundawati 1993, de Jong 1994). In Central and East Kalimantan, rattan have been incorporated into shifting cultivation systems for more than 100 years (Weinstock 1983, Godoy and Feaw 1989, Fried 1995). A century ago, in the south of Sumatra, swidden farmers started cultivating damar trees - resin-producing dipterocarps from the genus Shorea - in complex forest-like gardens (Michon et al. 1987). There, native rubber trees were also planted by local rubber tappers, but rubber production really developed with the replacement of local rubber species by Hevea brasiliensis from the Amazon, and its incorporation in local swidden systems at the beginning of this century (Pelzer 1945, Dove 1994b, Gouyon et al. 1993).

Evolution from extraction to production

What are these indigenous systems conceived for NWFP production? How can they be translated into more systematic models for improved NWFP production, adapted to smallholder scale, and contributing to the development of forest lands?

A close look at local practices for NWFP production in the region reveals four main tendencies of evolution from extraction to production.

Integrated production: forest species cultivated in the forest

The first set of examples consists of in-situ replacement of wild individuals by planted ones, coupled with practices that locally modify the forest to the benefit of the planted tree - e.g., selective slashing of competing vegetation, slight opening of the canopy. This enrichment planting integrates into existing forest structures without destroying or replacing them. The forest is altered in spots, to varying degrees, but without any essential biological, structural, ecological or functional change.

This type of enrichment planting is well-documented in the Amazon, with the management of cultivated stands of Euterpe palms for palm heart and juice production in swamp forests (Anderson 1990), or with the production of Brazil nuts (Lescure 1995). However, such integrated forest domestication practices do exist in Southeast Asia.

Integrating tea and rattan in forests

Tea production under the forest canopy is found from northern Thailand to southern China. Patterns and practices of traditional tea production remain highly variable. The less intensive way is to clear some of the forest vegetation around tea trees growing wild in order to reduce competition and slightly increase the amount of light the tea trees receive, thus increasing their natural production. These tea gardens usually have a very low density of tea. More intensive practices involve planting of seedlings raised in nurseries, or transplanting of wild saplings, to special places prepared in the forest where only a remaining canopy of high forest trees is kept, which creates regular shade. These wild tea gardens can be maintained for well over a century, with regular regeneration of decaying trees if needed. Tea trees are only slightly pruned, as compared to present estate practices. A current evolution seems to be towards more opened tea gardens, so that the most 'intensive' tea gardens have very few forest trees left.

In some areas of Central Kalimantan (Godoy et al. 1989) and East Kalimantan (Michon, personal observation), rattan is planted in old secondary forests. After slashing of the undergrowth vegetation, rattan seeds are planted at the base of the remaining canopy trees, which will serve as support for the developing rattan vines. The plot is then abandoned until the rattan canes can be harvested, starting 6 to 8 years after planting. As the cultivated rattan grow in clumps, the harvest may be gradual and repeated every three years if needed. Replanting will occur only after all the rattan clumps have been harvested.

In-situ cultivation of NWFPs is a promising technique that could improve and increase natural production without disrupting the ecosystem. This technique, being presently tested for Brazil nut production in the Amazon, could be implemented in large extractive reserves, as well as in special use areas or buffer zones in and around protected areas.

Cultivated forests in farm lands: agroforests

Other indigenous practices constitute examples of true 'forest culture', best models of which can still be found in Indonesia (Torquebiau 1984; Michon and Bompard 1987, Sardjono 1992, Aumeeruddy 1993, Dove 1993b, Gouyon 1993, Momberg 1993, Padoch 1993, Sundawati 1993, de Jong 1994, Salafsky 1994, Fried 1995). In this case, the selected species are planted in forest clearings that are managed as small-scale plantations. This practice destroys pre-existing forest structures in order to create a new system. However, technical choices in the plantation management and composition result in the restoration of forest structures that appear more or less equivalent to the original ones. The global ecological qualities and socio-economic functions of the original environment are restored.

Agroforests can be defined as permanent forest structures established (i.e., planted) by farmers in the middle of agricultural lands for a specific forest production, but that integrate diversified production functions and play an active role in the conservation of forest biodiversity. They would greatly benefit from the incorporation of 'improved' genotypes generated by adapted domestication research, as well as from the systematic incorporation of timber as a major secondary production. The implementation area covers both buffer zones around protected areas and degraded forest margins.

Damar agroforests in Lampung, Sumatra

This process of forest reconstruction can be illustrated by the establishment of damar agroforests in Sumatra (Michon and Bompard 1987, de Foresta and Michon 1993, Michon et al. 1995). The plantation starts with the traditional slash-and-burn practice of rice cultivation on forest lands. Damar seedlings are then planted in young coffee plantations established after the first paddy harvest. This coffee-damar association is maintained up to 8 years, after which the damar trees are left to develop along with natural pioneers. During this period of relative abandonment, the young plantation gradually acquires an appearance typical of any secondary forest. However, this planted fallow becomes more complex over the years due to a combination of natural silvigenetic mechanisms and farmers' practices of selective cutting and enrichment planting. After 40-50 years, the damar plantation reaches its full production period.

From a socio-economic point of view, it is not fundamentally different from any specialized commercial plantation. It provides the majority of household income (Mary, 1987; Levang, 1992) and constitutes an essential element of a farming system that complements rice fields. However, from a biological point of view, the mature phase finally resembles more the forest it replaced than a conventional tree plantation. After several decades, with the establishment of more climactic forest species among the cultivated ones, the damar garden exhibits a complex structure with a high canopy and several under-canopy layers, a dense undergrowth; and fairly high biodiversity. The garden includes economic trees, either planted or protected, as well as non-useful species like epiphytes, lianas and undergrowth herbs and shrubs, usually not considered as 'weeds' by the farmer,

And, unlike plantations that evolve through repetitive cycles leading from plantation to total harvest and back to plantation, the damar agroforest, once established, usually reproduces without any further major disruption, as decaying trees are replaced whenever needed. This lack of disruption favours the re-establishment of rare or late successional plant species and animals.

Temporary production in swidden cultivation systems

A third indigenous model for NWFP production consists of rotational systems where the forest production phase is only temporary, and is integrated into the traditional shifting cultivation cycle. The best Indonesian examples are rattan gardens in East Kalimantan (Weinstock 1983, Fried 1995), and rubber gardens in the lowlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Pelzer 1945, Dove 1993b, Gouyon et al. 1993). These systems rely on common practices. Forest seedlings are usually co-planted with rice in the swidden, and start developing with the fallow vegetation. The farmer performs occasional selective slashing of competing vegetation around the planted trees. Variations in the different systems concern the harvesting strategy - either total, one-shot, or gradual, repetitive harvest - and the length of the forest production period.

Rubber gardens in the lowlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan

Smallholder rubber gardens represent an important example of indigenous rotational production system for NWFPs as they hold the largest share - 80 percent - in Indonesian rubber production since 1945, and cover roughly 2.5 to 3 million hectares in the lowlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. Though the cultivated rubber tree is not a native species, swidden cultivators in Sumatra and Borneo soon adopted it in their production system (Pelzer 1945, Dove 1993b, Gouyon et al. 1993, Dove 1994b). Rubber trees, sown in a rice swidden and growing among classic fallow vegetation, can be tapped after 6 to 8 years. The 'normal' cycle for rubber production is from 35 to 40 years, but some rubber gardens happen to be more permanent, with gradual replacement of decaying trees by self-established rubber seedlings. However, after a maximum of 80 years, the vegetation is totally slashed for a new cycle.

Due to this relative 'perennial' state, combined with minimal tending practices, indigenous rubber gardens harbour a considerable number of plant species. A good management of market risks and the provision of secondary products through self-established biodiversity - plant foods and material, timber, game meat - compensate for the relative low productivity in rubber. Besides their economic importance for farmers, for whom they represent the main source of cash, the role of indigenous rubber gardens in the conservation of plant and animal biodiversity in the lowlands is dramatically increasing, with the depletion of the last unlogged dipterocarps forest of this ecozone.

Improved fallows seem to have a bright future in areas where permanent food cropping is too difficult. Some fallows could be conceived around short- to medium-cycle forest crops that could be either actively integrated in the successional vegetation - like rattan - or completely replace it.

Cinnamon, nuts and spices in Indonesia

Cinnamon, a medium-sized tree in western Indonesian forests, is mainly produced in specialized gardens in the highlands of Kerinci, Central Sumatra. However, farmers in West Sumatra have developed an original example of cinnamon production below a high canopy of cultivated trees. Cinnamon trees are established in cleared undergrowth beneath planted durian trees mixed with large timber-producing trees. The cinnamon stand is usually totally harvested after 8 to 10 years and then replanted. However, some gradual harvesting can occur if needed. Cinnamon can also be mixed in the undergrowth with coffee and/or nutmeg, plus scattered fruit trees. Self established vegetation is usually conserved, but due to the high density of the cinnamon stand, biodiversity consists mostly of epiphytes on the canopy trees, small lianas, and undergrowth herbs.

Such multi-layered agroforestry systems can also be found in several islands in the Moluccas, eastern Indonesia, with an association between forest trees and horticultural species. Coconut trees and tall Canarium (canary nut) form a canopy under which Inocarpus, and nutmeg or clove, or a mixture of both, plus banana groves are cultivated (Michon 1990, personal observation)

NWFP production integrated in multipurpose tree gardens

The last set of examples consists of more 'ordered' permanent agroforestry gardens that might not be as diverse as the above-mentioned forest gardens, and in which the production of selected NWFPs are integrated with other targeted productions such as timber and/or fruits.

Multistrata agroforestry systems combine different tree and eventually crop production that are designed to make the best use of vertical space - superimposed layers from the ground to top of canopy. They are less diverse and more controlled than agroforests. The best implementation area lies in the restoration of degraded lands far from any forest source.

D. Prospects for future NWFP production

The conventional production model of NWFPs through specialized plantation inspired by commercial agriculture has obvious advantages over extraction from natural forests. These include: rationalization and homogenization of commodity production; geographical concentration of production; and increased yields per unit of land. But some of the characteristics of the plantation model may represent burdens, risks, or even major impediments for smallholder forest farmers. Possible negative effects on farmers are: increased ecological as well as economic fragility linked to specialization; high production costs for planting material, field preparation and maintenance, weeds and pest control; and increased specificity of technical knowledge.

Future development of NWFPs needs, above all, a fair dose of fresh imagination and inspiration that allows one to escape from the present bipolar situation of extraction versus specialized plantation. How can the production strategies developed in the above-mentioned examples inspire new thinking?

One main principle is to take advantage of and maintain the pre-existing resource and knowledge bases of indigenous management systems. The colonial model of forest resources development through production has concentrated on the transfer of a few selected forest species to agricultural fields through cropping patterns designed for grain production (Michon 1997). This has resulted in a total partition between the concerned forest species - and the related forest commodity production - and the forest itself.

Here, control over natural mechanisms and maximization of yields are the key words. Indigenous models do start from the transfer of selected forest species to agricultural lands, but they rely on a process that replicates forest patterns and structures in those systems. Integrated use of natural processes and optimization of production patterns are essential. These systems do not provide high yields of a given forest commodity, but they combine specialized forest production with the maintenance of a wide forest resource base. They synthesize agricultural and forest qualities in an economic as well as ecological perspective.

The technical and sociocultural model of colonial plantation remained uniform and static throughout the tropics and through history - from the old Dutch rubber estates to the modern industrial timber or rattan plantations. Conversely, indigenous systems have built on, and maintained, diversity. The advent of industrial plantation models in forest areas often erased this diversity.

These models and systems should be systematically re-examined under the new perspective of forest production, in general, and especially within the framework of agroforestry research (Michon 1996). Two key questions emerge: Do indigenous forest gardens in the tropics merely represent an intermediate stage in a uniform 'domestication and cultivation process', as commonly acknowledged? Or do they open new pathways toward the design of alternative forest production systems? As one ponders the future of NWFPs in Asia-Pacific, it is certainly worth digging into these questions.

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