Problems to be addressed

Tenure rights and Legislation governing the commercial exploitation of NWFP are inadequate or non-existent.

The forest resource base is progressively depleted of its key NWFP species, aggravating food insecurity of the poor rural population whose livelihoods depend on a free access to forests for gathering NWFP. Degradation is due to the lack of management and the insufficient control on the harvesting, use and particularly the commercial trade in NWFP. Uncontrolled commercial use is often the main reason for excessive harvesting of the NWFP species in the forests leading to its extinction and which gradually excludes the poorest households to access these forest resources for their subsistence needs.

Tenure problems and the lack of legislation governing the commercial use of NWFP, but also rural poverty, are amongst the more prominent causes for the degradation of the forest resource base. Emphasising rights based principles such as clarifying and regulating tenure rights; participation; empowerment and non-discrimination during projects’ implementation will deepen and broaden the understanding of the fundamental causes of forest resource degradation, thereby contributing to sustainable solutions such as stable tenure rights and a more equitable legislation and realistic reading of subsistence rights for low-barrier legal commercialization of NWFP.

Poster presented at the conference TROPENTAG in Germany: Impact of laws and regulations on the use of non-wood forest products in Central Africa (language: English, October 2011) 

Potential of forest dependent communities to manage their forests and benefit from their use in a sustainable and profitable way; and the capacities of the governmental agencies in their support, are untapped.

Capacities of forest dependent communities to manage forests effectively and commercialize NWFP profitably and in a sustainable way are limited. Earlier work and surveys have shown that rural communities and families can exercise significant control functions on forest resources and on the subsistence and commercial use of NWFP once an enabling legal framework and appropriate institutional support and training from governmental agencies and NGO has been provided. The ability of rural communities to participate meaningfully and effectively in forest management, NWFP-based enterprise development and policy formulation processes would be strengthened by basing such participation on rights based principles.

Transport of Maranthaceae leaves (Photo: O. Ndoye)

The Governments in the region have made substantive efforts to improve their institutional capacities and to reform the forestry sector for more participatory and private sector engagement, however, by overlooking the NWFP segment and the role of forest dependent communities. The existing legal frameworks provide more rights to the population to utilize and control the natural resources for their subsistence use, but are still insufficient to guide their commercial exploitation. To implement the sub-regional directives into the existing national legal frameworks and to guide their effective use is subject to some conditions related to responsibilities and the acquirement of specific capacities and skills by the relevant Government agencies and other partner organizations involved.

The potential for increasing the sustainable and socially equitable production and use of forest foods, goods and services is untapped due to a lack of base information and technical knowledge.  

The management of NWFP is a complex endeavor involving technical and managerial skills from several partners and sectors. In the framework of participatory management of the natural resources, many activities are currently underway and experiences are gathered and shared in Central Africa. A huge amount of base information and technical knowledge on the management and commercialization of key NWFP exist. Also, numerous initiatives are presently underway to strengthen capacity to enhance the economic benefits that can be made from a better use of NWFP from natural and planted forests. However, it takes time before the population gets results from such research work and start applying them. There is a need to collect, analyze and disseminate all that experience and information to all relevant stakeholders and to have this information available through ways that are accessible and understandable for the rural populations. Furthermore, tackling food insecurity and malnutrition requires integrated and inter-sectoral approaches. A rights-based approach to food security would contribute to cross-sectoral and cross-departmental cooperation linking the key players in food security with those in governance and human rights.

Existing local knowledge and best practices for regulating the use of foods from the forests and combine/integrate them into forest management and food chain development has to be identified and improved. To better understand the requirements for an effective implementation of improved legislation and best practices for the development of the NWFP sector and their contribution to food security and right to food issues, pilot-scale test activities in different social and ecological contexts are needed.

last updated:  Wednesday, January 22, 2014