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Messrs. Önder BARLI & Hasan SERIN
K.T.U. Forestry Faculty, TRABZON


People have benefited from Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) for many generations and many of the products have as long a tradition in human history as do timber products. We have been using various terms to describe Non-Wood Forest Products, including minor, secondary, special, non-timber and none traditional. On the other hand, NWFP are plants and parts of plants that are harvested from within and on the edges of natural and disturbed forests. NWFP are formed into a diverse set of products:

leaves and twigs that may be components of decorative arrangements;
food items such as fruits, fungi, and juices; and
roots, leaves and bark processed into herbal remedies or medicines.

Besides, NWFP contribute significantly to local and regional economies. If the current trends continue the trade and use of NWFP will grow substantially over the near future. We would be hopeful that NWFP have recently been receiving more attention from everybody.

On the other hand, Europe has got 11 000 species of plant and at least 2000 species are used on a commercial basis, some 1200–1300 of which are native to Europe. Of these, 90 percent is still wild collected (some 20 000–30 000 t/yr). Wild collection is particularly prominent in Albania, Turkey, Hungary and Spain. There are approximately 9500 plant species in Turkey and 3000 of these are endemic and native to Turkey. Some of the endemic species are an important part of the world NWFP market, for example; storax, snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), bay-leaf (Laurel nobilis), stone pine corn.(Pinus pinea). Analysis of trade data revealed that Turkey exports over $100 million in a year (Figure 1).

In this paper, the role of NWFP in the national economy, the production methods in Turkey, the national politics of Turkey on this concept and sustainable forest management strategies are investigated. Some recommendations such as, adjustments to legislation, improved management programs, public awareness and education, enhancement of cultivation efforts and certifications of plant material from sustainable sources are proposed.

Key words: Non-Wood Forest Product (NWFP), Sustainable Management, Economics.


People have benefited from Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) for many generations in many areas such as medicines, food items, cosmetics, pesticides and decorative arrangements. As a NWFP, we can understand the following items; trees, bushes, branches, twigs, fruits, leaves, roots, bark and flowers of plants, onions, rhizomes, rounds, fungi, forest soil and the others.

Besides, NWFP contribute significantly to local and regional economies. If the current trends continue the trade and use of NWFP will grow substantially over the near future. In Turkey, generally there is an important commercial potential related to wild collection of medicinal plants. Every year, some thousand tonnes of roots, leaves, flowers and seeds belonging to native plants of Turkey are collected for both exporting and local needs.

In Turkey, the collection of endemic and native species from the wild has long been known. For example, every year 500 tonnes of roots of Gypsophila and Ankropetalum and about 90 tonnes of seeds of Colchicum speciosum have been collected. Consequently, some species may become threatened as a result of over collection from the wild (Özatay, 1997).

In this paper, the role of NWFP in the national economy, the production mistakes in Turkey and the other issues are investigated. Furthermore, some recommendations such as adjustments to legislation, improved management programs, public awareness and education and sustainable management strategies are proposed.

The Role of NWFP in Turkey's Economy

Europe has about 11 000 species of plant and at least 2000 species are used on a commercial basis, some 1200–1300 of which are native to Europe (Lange, 1998). Turkey has a crucial position in NWFP because of its geographic conditions. There are approximately 9500 plant species in Turkey and 3000 of these are endemic to Turkey. Some of the endemic species are an important part of the world NWFP market, for example; storax, snowdrop, bay-leaf, stone pine corn.

Turkey has a rich flora and fauna inside or outside forest areas. Although, some of the NWFP (for example; resin, storax, pine roots with resin) have been harvested by Forest General Administration. The others have been harvested by unconscious, unplanned and overzealous collection according to the situation of the demand and supply.

NWFP related to a yearly production plan are resin, storax and pine roots with resin. Some NWFP unrelated to a yearly production plan are bay-leaf, stone pine corn, oak gall, acorn, juniper berries, lime leaves and flowers, eucalyptus leaves, carob, chestnut etc. (....., 1995).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Exports of NWFP From Turkey: 1991 to 1996 (The Records of NWFP Department Adm.of Forest Gen. Adm. of Turkey)

The importance of NWFP to the economic portfolio of Turkey has been increasing each day. Although, the value of NWFP exports is over $100 million, the value of imports has reached to $70 million in recent years (Figures 2,3).

Figure 2

Figure 2. Comparison of Export-Import Situation of NWFP of Turkey. (The Records of NWFP Department Adm. of Forest Gen.Adm. of Turkey)

It is investigated that the value of NWFP export is covered about 60% of total forest products exports of Turkey (Bozkurt and Göker, 1981). Prominent NWFP of export of Turkey include; mushrooms, kekik (thyme), bay-leaf, cinnamon, cumin, carob. Turkey is an important supplier for these products in the world markets. Important imported NWFP are rhizome and rubber (Blatner and the others, 1998).

Figure 3

Figure 3. Imports of NWFP to Turkey: 1991 to 1996. (The Records of NWFP Department Adm. of Forest Gen. Adm. of Turkey)

The collection of NWFP has contributed to the rural economies of some countries. Although Turkey has got tremendous potential for NWFP, the additions of this sector to the regional and national economies aren't at the desirable level.

The Process Failures of NWFP In Turkey

The lack of social and technical regulation, improper workforce and the other issues regarding the harvesting of NWFP could negatively impact the NWFP industry. The problems could lead to over-harvesting, degradation of the environment, quality and productivity failures regarding NWFP and some social problems.

Stocking and transporting of NWFP collected in improper conditions change the physio-chemical properties of the NWFP and cause loss of yield. In the collection of the some NWFP such as roots from the under ground by machine or workforce, an important erosion problem appears in the region over time due to not paying due attention to the environment and the soil.

Continued harvesting without prudent management could lead to degradation of the forest and social ecosystems. Decline of the forest could result in loss of habitat and availability of products. Thus, Turkey is faced with the loss of some natural species. The natural occurrence of endemic species in Turkey have been notably reduced due to over-harvesting and some of the species should be added to the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Sustainable Management Strategies of NWFP

Most forest management strategies are focused on timber-based products. There is a wealth of knowledge on managing forests for wood products. But very little information exists on managing forests for edible, medicinal or floral products. Silvicultural prescriptions for natural forest ecosystems that include NWFP are severely lacking and much more work is needed to develop a comprehensive body of knowledge on how to manage forest resources for NWFP.

As only few important NWFP were used for trade, these products did not get due emphasis from forest managers and policy-makers who concentrated on timber and other wood products. Despite this lack of attention and policy thrust, collection, processing and trade of NWFP continued to thrive in social and traditional uses. In recent years, economic value has been growing in local, national and international markets.

Since the Rio Earth Summit and Launching of the Bio Diversity Conventions, most countries have realized the need to take steps for development of policy guidelines for management and sustainable harvesting of NWFP. Considerable effort is still required at national and international levels in policy development, analysis and proper implementation. Close collaboration with the actual gatherers and primary users in the local communities, researchers and Non-Government Organizations (NGO) is required. (Mukerji, 1997).

Basic assessment data is vital for sustainable management strategies of NWFP. This includes the evaluation of the economically important plants available in a given area. How plentiful they are, how they can regenerate to ensure sustainable harvesting, distribution of forest types, which parts give what product.

There is an urgent need for each country to conduct research work on the following vital subjects for development of sustainable management practices for various NWFP (Mukerji, 1997, Gould, 1998).

The quantification of the contribution of NWFP in the national economy is essential, especially in the informal sector of meeting the subsistence needs, employment generation, health care, food security, etc., of the rural people as well as its true commercial value in local, regional, national and international trade. Such assessment of NWFP resources as well as quantification and valuation of benefits will ensure a better focus of policy makers on the need for investment and development of these vital sectors of rural and national economy.

Development of Operational Programmes

Sustainable harvesting should be first oriented towards meeting local needs and only then can commercial prospects be explored. For large-scale commercial exploitation, the focus needs to be ex-situ cultivation to preserve the natural resources and ensure regular supply.

Moreover, creation of a national level program for assessment of demand outlook, identification of market opportunities and ultimate use at national and international level as well as price trend and possible threat from substitutes at national and regional level are important for market development. There is an imperative need for development of regional co-operation in exchange of market information, process technology, production and price situation and international demand to counter monopolistic market control by cartels of multinational traders and industry.

On the other hand, the key to developed management of NWFP is demonstrated to be collaborative management, which is being implemented by participatory rural appraisal. It is suggested that sustainable NWFP forest management strategies also need to address economic and social aspects besides just those of ecological silvicultural and ecosystem processes.

Awareness and Education of Rural Communities

Generally, the local people have fairly good knowledge as to where and when to harvest and which product to derive maximum profit. However, the assumption that local harvesting is being done on a sustainable basis is unfounded as it is mostly market driven and new technologies and tools for gathering, post-harvest processing and storage have not percolated to the grassroots level leading to low quality yield and a lot of wastage.

As such, there is urgent need for organizing, through appropriate agencies, the training of universities, Forest General Administration, proper firms and local stakeholders in modern methods of harvesting for sustainable production as well as technology for storage and post-harvest treatment, primary processing and quality control. This will ensure additional value and ready acceptance of the products at attractive prices in the markets. Moreover, the village-level organizations like cooperative societies will be in a better position to implement the approaches in this subject.

Tenure rights of local people and forest residents are an important issue for sustainable development of NWFP and its commercial harvesting. In Turkey, the public owns most of the forest area. However, the local people have the right of collection of some NWFP for personal consumption either free of cost or on payment of a small token fee. Trade in most of the commercially important products like resin and storax, etc. have been either nationalized or is done only through designated traders without free market conditions. As such, there is urgent need to clarify these tenure arrangements and codify the layers of traditional rights, use pattern, dwellers, concessions and privileges of the local communities and forest settlers.


Today, many countries do not have policies related to NWFP and such there is an urgent need for improvement of policies that consider the need to protect the forest resources, to benefit local communities, and to meet their cultural and spiritual needs. However, some efforts have been initiated some governments to regulate the collection of many NWFP on public lands. Several mechanisms are being evaluated, including long-term leases and harvest permits. The development of appropriate and effective regulatory methods however, is still in its infancy (Chamberlain and the others, 1998).

As to Turkey, the local public and the other entrepreneurs derive substantial revenue from the collection, sale and processing of some NWFP that improve their economic status. Unfortunately the contributions of these NWFP are yet to be properly reflected in their contributions to GDP of the country. On the other hand, the lack of regulations regarding the harvesting of NWFP could negatively impact the NWFP industry in Turkey. It could even lead to over-harvesting and degradation of the resources.

Essentially, in both Turkey and the other countries, some models do exist for other products, particularly wild life, that could prove helpful in developing appropriate regulatory schemes for NWFP. Some existing models are designed to regulate harvest, generate revenues for the management agencies and provide significant disincentives for over-harvesting. (Chamberlain and the others, 1998). Undoubtedly, in Turkey, regulations can be developed and implemented that will improve the management and marketing of NWFP, too.

The other important issues are markets and consumers. Perhaps the most critical factor that will affect the future of the NWFP industry is the nature and temperament of consumers. These characteristics include demographics (age, income, etc.) and psychographics (preferences, aversions, opinions, etc.). The tremendous growth in the industry is being driven by a segment of the populations that shares similar demographics. The psychographic characteristics of the consumers also affect product demand. Products that are preferred today may be rejected tomorrow! Monitoring and understanding consumer characteristics are essential for the long-term sustainability of the NWFP industry because only by understanding the psychographic attributes of the consumer base can appropriate marketing strategies be developed.

Finally, much more effort is needed to document and share the knowledge regarding NWFP that exists throughout the world. And much more work (related to education, marketing, regulation, etc.) is needed to develop a comprehensive structure of knowledge on how to manage NWFP resources in both Turkey and other countries.

Literature Cited

1. Özatay, N. and Atay, S., “Kekik in Trade in Turkey”, Proceedings of the XI. World Forestry Congress, Vol. 3., 13–22 October 1997, Antalya / Turkey.

2. Lange, D., “Europe's Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: Their Use Trade and Conservation”, Traffic International, 1998, UK.

3. Lange, D., The methods of Production and sale of NWFP, T.C. The Ministry of Forest, Forestry General Administration, 1995, Ankara.

4. Lange, D., The Records of NWFP Department Adm. of Forest Gen. Adm. of Turkey, 1998, Ankara.

5. Bozkurt, Y. and Göker, Y., “Orman Ürünlerinden Faydalanma (Using of the Forest Production)”, İ.Ü. Press No: 2840, 1981, Istanbul.

6. Blatner, A. K. and Alexander, S., “Recent Price Trends for Non-Timber Forest Products in the Pacific Northwest”, Forest Product Journal, Vol. 48, No: 10, 1998.

7. Mukerji, A. K., “Importance of Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) and Strategies for Sustainable Development”, Proceedings of the XI. World Forestry Congress, Vol. 3., 13–22 October 1997, Antalya, Turkey.

8. Gould, K. Howard, A. F. and Rodriguez, G., “Sustainable Production of Non-Timber Forest Product: Natural Dye Extraction from El Cruse Dos Aguadas, Peten, Guatemala”, Forest Ecology and Management, lll (1), 1998, U.S.A.

9. Chamberlain, J., Bush, R., and Hammet A.. L., “Non-Timber Forest Products”, Forest Product Journal, Vol. 48, No:10, 1998.

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