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Research Report

Forest Products, Livelihoods and Conservation: Case Studies of Non-Timber Forest Product Systems

Koen Kusters
Brian Belcher
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2004
Pages: 369
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. xi-xii)
    J.E. Michael Arnold

    Products other than timber and other industrial roundwood have always constituted a large part of the forest economy in developing countries. Individual products provide inputs and income directly to huge numbers of rural and urban households. In many countries the aggregate of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) contributes as much, if not more, to national product as industrial roundwood. However, their designation as ‘minor’ forest products reflects their relative neglect until quite recently. Produced and consumed largely outside the monetary economy, they attracted only limited attention and even less in the way of measurement and research.

    The recent increase in interest...

  2. (pp. 1-22)
    Brian Belcher and Koen Kusters

    Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) feature prominently in discussions of rural development and forest conservation. Poor rural people depend on a wide variety of plants, animals and fungi for their own direct use and for sale. Some of these products have important commercial markets and generate substantial revenues. In the search for ways to promote development while at the same time protecting the environment, the idea that forests can produce a flow of valuable products without being subject to the destructive harvesting often associated with industrial forestry has proven attractive to environmental non-governmental organisations, donors and development agencies.

    Influential studies, such...


    • (pp. 23-42)
      Nitin D. Rai

      The fruit of Garcinia gummi-gutta is a valuable product obtained from the rainforests of the Western Ghats of southern India. The dried rind has long been used in the kitchen as a souring agent, and that market continues to exist. Since more recently the rind is also used for the extraction of hydroxy citric acid (HCA), an active ingredient in human weight loss formulations. The sudden appreciation in value of the dried rind because of the newly discovered export markets has greatly enhanced the income of harvesters. The species is dioecious, and pollination is by weevils. The fruit is an...

    • (pp. 43-60)
      Catherine Aubertin

      Medicinal cardamom spontaneously sprouts anywhere in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) under the cover of the forest canopy, at elevations upwards of 700 m. Wild cardamom gathering and domesticated cardamom planting take place in traditional agroforestry systems based on shifting agriculture. Cardamom is a non-timber forest product for which the harvesting process tends not only to maintain, but even to augment, yields without any damage to the local natural environment. Cardamom is exported to China and Thailand, where demand is high as it has been for more than a millennium. Curiously, cardamom is not used in the developed herbal medicine...

    • (pp. 61-77)
      Nicolas Césarrd

      The Asian weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) larvae and pupae are collected in the wild from trees and commercialised as songbird food and fishing bait in Java, Indonesia. The produce called kroto brings substantial income to numerous rural households throughout the year. The resource’s durability is until now ensured by the species’ distribution (various ecosystems and polycalic structure of nests), the constraints for collection (inaccessibility of small nests and ants’ aggressive behaviour) and the limited number of collectors. However, constraints related to storage and transportation of the resource, retailer’s margins and a policy on animal trade (i.e., birds) are limiting the...

    • (pp. 78-93)
      Ying Long Chen

      Growing only in parts of East Asia, song rong [Tricholoma matsutake (Ito et Imai) Singer] is the most important edible fungus in the region, with farm gate prices of up to US$370 per kilogram. This chapter is based on a case study of song rong in the Zixi mountain area of Yunnan province, China. More than half the farmers in the research area are involved annually in the harvest of song rong, which contributes, on average, 62% to their annual cash income. The bulk of the harvested mushrooms reach the most important consumer market, Japan, within two days; the mushrooms...

    • (pp. 94-104)
      Yeo-Chang Youn

      This chapter describes the current situation and trend of oak mushroom [Lentinula edodes (Berk.) Pegler] consumption and cultivation with special reference to the case of Cheongyang-Gun in the Republic of Korea. Oak mushroom cultivation has a history of more than 400 years in Korea. The consumption of oak mushrooms is increasing because it is considered to be a natural food, free of toxic chemicals. The government has been promoting the cultivation of oak mushrooms because they are an important source of income for rural communities. The production of oak mushrooms in Korea has tripled during the last 10 years. The...

    • (pp. 105-113)
      Dinh Van Tu

      Medicinal cardamom (Amomum villosum Lour) occurs naturally in the strictly protected area of Ba Be National Park, Vietnam. Women from neighbouring villages enter the park to collect cardamom illegally. The picking and drying of cardamom does not require any investment, so it is accessible to everyone. Because of competition among gatherers for the same plants, collectors are tempted to pick young fruits, even though these are much less valuable than the ripe fruits. Cardamom extraction in the district has very little impact on the ecosystem and is a source of additional income for many households, but park management and local...

    • (pp. 114-129)
      Krishna H. Gautam

      The lapsi tree [Choerospondias axillaris (Roxb.) B.L. Burtt & A.W. Hill], a native species to the Himalayan range, is traditionally grown by Nepali hill farmers on slopes between terraces mixed with other fruit and fodder trees, and recently on terraces too. The tree used to be grown mainly for its timber, but over time the marketing of its fruits has become much more important. The commercialisation of the lapsi fruit has encouraged people to plant the tree. On the basis of a study in Sindhupalchok and Kavrepalanchok districts, it is concluded that farmers have not been able to reap the full...

    • (pp. 130-147)
      T.K. Raghavan Nair and W. Govindan Kutty

      In this case study we look at the production and processing of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum Maton) in the High Ranges and Nelliampathy hills in the state of Kerala, India. At present virtually all produced cardamom is grown in managed forest plantations. Some 90% of the households in the study area are involved in production or processing of cardamom in some way or other, deriving most of their cash income from cardamom. Of the cardamom produced, most is sold dry as a food additive while a small percentage, mostly of poor quality, is processed further into oil, oleoresin, medicinal preparations and...


    • (pp. 148-165)
      Carmen García Fernández

      Sumatran benzoin is a resin produced by Styrax trees, managed in forest gardens in the highlands of north Sumatra. The resin is used in incense, perfume and pharmaceutical preparations and as a flavouring agent. Trade with foreign countries has existed for over a millennium, first with China and later with Arab countries and Europe. The economic and cultural roles of benzoin have undergone major changes in the last few decades. Previously benzoin gardening was considered a high status activity which generated high income and made farmers proud. Nowadays some villages have abandoned the practice as other more profitable cash crops...

    • (pp. 166-182)
      Joost Foppes, Vannalak Sengsavanh, Michael Victor, Viloune Soydara and Sounthone Ketphanh

      The people from Tat Mouan village in northern Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) collect the bark of the climbing shrub locally known as tout tiang (a member of the Urticaceae family) from the wild. Marketing started only 10 years ago. Locally established rules and regulations, which state that only the people from Tat Mouan may harvest from its surrounding forest, have not prevented the rapid depletion of tout tiang resources as a result of commercial demand. Harvest is driven by the demand from foreign companies that export the tout tiang bark to China, where it is used to make...

    • (pp. 183-201)
      Dede Rohadi, Retno Maryani, Made Widyana and Irdez Azhar

      In Nusa Tenggara Timur province, Indonesia, sandalwood (Santalum album L.) is harvested mainly from natural stands. Sought after for its pleasant odour, the wood is used for the production handicrafts, joss sticks and, the main sandalwood product from the region, sandalwood oil, which is exported to be used in perfume and cosmetics industries all over the world. The sandalwood production in Nusa Tenggara Timur province is threatened by an alarming rate of decline in the sandalwood population. Overcapacity of the sandalwood processing industries has stimulated overexploitation by illegal logging activities. In addition, some harvesting methods (e.g., digging up roots because...

    • (pp. 202-221)
      Hubert de Foresta, Geneviève Michon, Ahmad Kusworo and Patrice Levang

      Farmers in the West Lampung Pesisir area in the south of Sumatra, Indonesia, have established forest gardens by introducing damar trees in upland rice swiddens plantations. These damar gardens were established as the wild resource itself was vanishing. While cultivating this forest resource, villagers have achieved the global restoration of a forest in the middle of agricultural lands. Harvest of resin from damar trees represents the main source of household cash income. Furthermore, Pesisir farmers managed to preserve a high level of biodiversity and a whole range of economic products and functions originally derived from the forest. Institutionally, appropriation of...


    • (pp. 222-240)
      Catherine Aubertin

      Paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera, is a pioneer species, commonly found in fallow after slash-and-burn cultivation. In Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), paper mulberry is cultivated in Sayaboury province as a cash crop, while in Luang Prabang province naturally occurring paper mulberry is harvested from fallow lands. Paper mulberry bark is usually integrated in a trade system of several cash crops, dominated by Thai buyers. It is processed into paper in Thailand and then exported to Japan and Korea. In Luang Prabang, the government’s attempt to stop shifting cultivation by allocating only three plots of land for cultivation to farmers...

    • (pp. 241-258)
      Fu Maoyi and Yang Xiaosheng

      This chapter describes the significance, function, characteristics and trends of the bamboo production-to-consumption system in Anji County, China. Moso bamboo [Phyllostachys heterocycla var. pubescens (Mazel ex J. Houz.) Ohwi] contributes a great deal to the local economy and to farmers’ income. With the change from collective to private management rights, the bamboo sector has increased considerably since the I980s. The establishment of bamboo plantations also had positive ecological effects, as bamboo stands can be established on degraded lands. This has resulted in a decrease in the local people’s dependency on natural forests (e.g., for firewood). However, the trend is towards...

    • (pp. 259-275)
      Dede Rohadi, Pipin Permadi and Syarif Hidayat

      The woodcarving industry in Bali has changed from a traditional religious art into a modern industry with an economic orientation, which is reflected in the diversification of designs. The woodcarving industry involves various scales of business (wood suppliers, home based enterprises, collectors, large producers and exporters) and contributes significantly to regional as well as household income. The development of the woodcarving industry, to some extent, has caused the depletion of several preferred wood species in the area. Some substitute species, imported from other islands, are now being used. In Bali, Paraserianthes falcataria, a particularly fast growing species, is being planted...

    • (pp. 276-286)
      Vu Dinh Quang

      Farmers living in the buffer zone of Ke Go Natural Reserve Area in Cam Xuyen district harvest a small-diameter rattan species, Calamus tetradactylus Hance (known locally as may), from both planted and wild resources. The availability of wild may has been decreasing owing to overharvesting. In 1998 a project was introduced promoting the cultivation of may, amongst others, by providing seedlings. The may from the study area feeds into a large pool of rattan used for the production of furniture and handicrafts near Hanoi. Most end products are produced for export. The demand from new international markets for rattan furniture...

    • (pp. 287-303)
      Arvind A. Boaz

      The leaves of the tendu tree (Diospyros melanoxylon Roxb.) are an important non-timber forest product for the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. They are used in the rolling of beedis, a local cigarette. After this product was commercialised in the early twentieth century, its economic importance for local communities has increased, particularly during the last four decades. The government established state control over the collection and trade of tendu leaves in 1964. In 1989 the government adjusted its regulations and established a co-operative structure for the collection and trade of tendu leaves. The majority of leaves collected in Harda district,...

    • (pp. 304-314)
      Honorato G. Palis

      This chapter is based on a study of rattan extraction from the Langogan and Kalakwasan watersheds in the eastern portion of the Philippine province of Palawan. Rattan is being extracted from the natural forest and traded in Manila and Cebu, where it is used in the production of rattan furniture. Laws and regulations meant to protect the resource have not yielded any significant positive results. The tribal communities in the research area have been granted user rights to their ‘ancestral domain’, but these are not exclusive, since the same area is being leased out to a concessionaire. The concessionaire has...

    • (pp. 315-324)
      Pipin Permadi, Syarif Hidayat and Dede Rohadi

      The forested areas in the subdistrict of Sukaraja, West Java, are plantations managed by the state owned company Perum Perhutani. The company hires local people for planting, maintenance and logging activities. Damar (Agathis borneensis) is one of the species grown and is the main wood species for the production of kitchen utensils in the area. There are four kitchen utensil enterprises, each employing 10 to 15 workers. Often the production of kitchen utensils takes place in a worker’s home, usually as piecework paid as per the amount produced. Workers are farmers, for whom the work provides an important part of...

    • (pp. 325-336)
      An Van Bay

      The culms and shoots of the bamboo species Nua (Neohouzeaua dullooa (Gamble) A. Camus) are harvested by farmers in the district of Cho Don, Vietnam. The shoots are sold as food and the culms are sold for paper processing and the production of handicrafts, largely for export. Households may earn more than half of their cash income from the sale of Nua. The annual cut of mature Nua culms does not threaten the resource base since the culms regenerate quickly. The harvesting of shoots is an important source of income for farmers in need of cash, but limits the availability...

    • (pp. 337-354)
      Fadjar Pambudhi, Brian Belcher, Patrice Levang and Sonya Dewi

      Rattan cultivated as part of the traditional swidden agricultural system has been a major source of internationally traded rattan raw material and, more recently, the basis of a strong domestic furniture and handicrafts industry. The rattan gardens of Kalimantan provide an example of an intermediate non-timber forest product management system that is well adapted to the local economy and ecology. Over the past two decades, however, important changes have taken place, changes that tested the resilience of the system. Government policies designed to encourage the domestic processing industry and monopsonistic manufacturing association have sharply depressed demand and prices. New developments...