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Medicinal plants and forests

Medicinal plants for forest conservation and health care. 1997. Non-Wood Forest Products No. 11. Rome, FAO.

Medicinal plants make a huge contribution to traditional and modern health care systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of developing countries rely on traditional medicines - mostly plant drugs - for primary health care needs. In addition, a substantial part of modern pharmacopoeia is based on drugs derived from plants or synthetic analogues built on prototype compounds isolated from plants. Increasing worldwide demand for medicinal plants - the majority still gathered in the wild on forest lands - has threatened some plant species with extinction, and raises more general questions about over exploitation and the long-term sustainability of these important forest resources. However, the development of pharmaceutical products and the harvesting of local non-timber forest products, when properly controlled, could be of great benefit to local peoples and to developing countries.

Medicinal plants for forest conservation and health care includes 24 research papers by experts in medicinal plants, and provides an overview of the many policy and technical issues associated with the conservation, use, protection and trade of medicinal plants. It also alerts readers to the many problems and challenges facing their sustainable development. Subjects covered include: assessment and management of the medicinal plant resource base; best harvesting and processing practices; trade issues; and intellectual property rights regarding traditional medicines of indigenous peoples.

Of great interest to foresters, rural development workers, policy-makers and anyone involved with traditional medicine, this document will help raise awareness of medicinal plants as an important forest resource and ensure that they are adequately included in forest conservation and utilization programmes.

A global review of coniferous non-wood forest products

Non-wood forest products from conifers. By Bill Ciesla. 1998. Non-Wood Forest Products No. 12. Rome, FAO.

Conifers dominate large areas of the world's forests, principally in the boreal and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere as well as in many tropical and subtropical forest ecosystems in both humid and semi-arid zones. In addition to huge wood production potential - conifers accounted for almost two-thirds of the world's total industrial roundwood production in 1995 - they also provide a wide range of non-wood products that are of great benefit to human society. Nonetheless, foresters have dedicated little or no attention to the enhancement of the many non-wood uses of conifer forests.

This volume presents a global review of non-wood conifer products and discusses the many issues involved with their development, including problems associated with sustainable management, harvesting and utilization and compatibility or conflicts with timber production and other land uses. Data on levels of production and international trade are given where possible. The information provided enhances initiatives aimed at promoting non-wood conifer products as an integral part of economic development and poverty alleviation, and identifies opportunities for special management of conifer forests and woodlands where either traditional or contemporary non-wood forest products are already or potentially an important economic or social resource. The information provided also facilitates the incorporation of non-wood goods and services from conifers into forest management planning and implementation activities.

Non-wood forest products from conifers serves as a useful reference for foresters, rural development decision-makers, conservation agencies and all concerned with the sustainable development of non-wood uses from conifer forests in both developing and developed countries.

Reconciling conservation and use of wildlife

Conservation and the use of wildlife resources. M. Bolton. ed. 1997. London, Chapman & Hall.

One of the virtues of this book is that it involves the reader in the complexities of the issues it addresses - especially the concept of sustainability and the difficulty of reconciling use and conservation.

The book examines both the theoretical and the practical aspects of the conservation and use of wildlife resources in a style that is mild and non-confrontational but also uncompromising in its commitment to conservation. For instance, on the issue of protected areas the editor observes that: "It has become fashionable to say that parks are for people', but the other 97 percent of the earth's surface is also for people, so the important thing is to be clear about why parks are special."

There are three parts to the book. In the first part the broad scope of the subject is explored. In the second part, particular categories of use involving a range of taxa are examined through case studies. The final part attempts to synthesize and to make such generalizations as can be supported; and to identify the criteria for success in using wildlife for the benefit of conservation.

Two minor limitations of the book merit mention. One is that the case studies do not touch on what are a number of burning issues, such as the future of wildlife in Africa and how the use of non-wood forest products, including wildlife, can contribute to slowing down the destruction of tropical rainforests. The other is an occasionally dated approach, such as when limits to the extent to which monitoring can provide answers to management questions are mentioned, but no reference is made to the potential of modelling for exploring these same questions.

These minor misgivings do not detract from the overall value of Conservation and the use of wildlife resources, which will be of general interest to people affected by the issue of sustainability and of particular interest to people involved in finding solutions to the problem of reconciling the use of wildlife with its conservation.

Local knowledge -a key to dryland management

The dryland of Africa: local participation in tree management. By Edmund G.C. Barrow. 1996. Nairobi, Initiative Publishers.

Improvement of dryland areas of West and East Africa must rest on suitable technical changes, but the challenge is how best to select, initiate and implement measures that will improve the well-being of pastoralists while simultaneously addressing issues of future sustainability.

This book offers insights into the practical mechanisms by which land users in dryland areas manage and control their natural resources and how such mechanisms can be appropriately enhanced. Case studies interwoven through the text provide examples of land practice experience and lessons learned from the dry lands of East and West Africa.

By highlighting the critical aspects and processes that threaten successful dryland development, the author shows how serious mistakes have been made in dryland forestry, most often because planners disregarded the logic of local land use and the knowledge of local land users which had been passed down from generation to generation. External interventions have often been ineffective in dryland areas in terms of understanding the holistic complexity of existing practices. Although apparently more productive than traditional techniques, limiting mobility by establishing group ranches and tree planting projects are some of the activities that effectively threatened the overall livelihood and function of these societies. The author suggests that efforts will most likely be successful when these areas are dealt with holistically and when existing systems are appropriately supplemented.

This book will stimulate and inform those involved with dryland development, as well as a wider audience interested in the role of trees and shrubs in these regions, and increase awareness among those more generally interested in how dry lands are managed or mismanaged.

The importance of women's participation in the success of forest planning and development activities

Women's participation in national forest programmes. 1997. Rome, FAO.

National forest programmes provide a framework for addressing forestry issues within the context of sustainable development. Past experience shows that the success of such programmes depends heavily on the creation of a participatory planning and decision-making structure that favours the involvement of all parties, actors and partners concerned, and also on the integration of gender considerations in all phases of the development processes.

This practical note affirms that, in order to reach sustainability in national forest programmes, participatory and equity issues should be addressed and acted upon. The engagement of men and women, NGOs, local organizations, women's groups, the private sector, government and universities can only come about if there is an exchange of information, knowledge sharing and dialogue. This publication presents a concrete and systematic mechanism through which gender considerations can be taken fully into account during the planning, implementation and review of national forest programmes. It highlights the importance of considering the female dimension in such programmes in order to strengthen the success of forest planning and development activities. The recommended approach for such an integration in planning is firmly centred on participation.

The first section of this document provides a rapid overview of "gender specificities"; the roles, responsibilities, needs, constraints and opportunities that can be specific to men and to women in forestry. Also outlined are reasons explaining why these gender considerations should be taken into account in programmes and projects.

The second section is meant to be read in the light of integrating gender into processes and programmes. It presents a systematic review of the different phases of national forest programme formulation. Also briefly outlined are the participatory tools that can be used in each phase of the various processes to build up an appropriate database on what men and women do and why.

Women's participation in national forest programmes can serve as a guide to improve planning in the forest and forestry sectors through the consideration and integration of gender. It also furthers the understanding of the multidisciplinary aspects of forest planning.

Forest-dependent survival strategies of tribal women in Andhra Pradesh, India

Forest dependent survival strategies of tribal women: implications for Joint Forest Management in Andhra Pradesh, India. 1997. RAP Publication. Bangkok, FAO.

Forests make valuable contributions to subsistence economies and to income generation in rural communities. In the past two decades awareness of these benefits has increased significantly. It stimulated healthy debates over new forest policies that could potentially devolve more forest management responsibilities to forest-dependent people. As a result, the Indian Government has introduced the Joint Forest Management (JFM) policy by which control, protection and administration of forests are being handed over to local communities. However, the shift from state-controlled to participatory forest management is still considered radical in many places.

This publication examines the consequences of JFM policy on women in the Vishakapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. It reveals that they spend more time than men collecting and processing non-wood forest products. Although women in Andhra Pradesh have more authority than those in other Indian districts, because of their greater contribution to the welfare of the household, JFM neglects the gender disparities. Therefore, in order for JFM to be successful, its policy should capitalize on equal gender opportunities in order to improve the social and economic standing of women.

This publication is one of a series initiated by FAO to promote forest harvesting systems, techniques and methods that are environmentally, socially and economically efficient. The authors encourage the use of systems that are appropriate for local conditions, make the best use of local technologies, and emphasize harmony between people and their environment.

The report highlights that even well-intentioned community management policies may have negative impacts on women when the gender dimensions of forest use are overlooked or downplayed. In contrast, gender-sensitive development strategies benefit not only women, but the general household welfare. If developed appropriately, such policies also can help prevent further forest degradation and deforestation.

The experiences of Andhra Pradesh should provide valuable information for development initiatives in other areas.

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