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Research Report

Commercialisation of Non-Timber Forest Products:: Review and Analysis of Research

Roderick P. Neumann
Eric Hirsch
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2000
Pages: 187
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. vi-viii)
    Brian Belcher and Katherine Warner

    Commercial opportunities for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are emerging throughout the world as economic liberalisation is opening new markets and governmental decentralisation and democratisation is enabling communities to have a greater role in the management of forest resources. But what will be the impact of increasing commercialisation on forest resources? Or to reframe the question: can there be both commercialisation and conservation of resources?

    In a strategy that supports the linking of conservation of the forest with income generation activities, development agencies and donors are developing initiatives that attempt to link income-generation (especially for the rural poor) and conservation objectives:...

  2. (pp. 1-16)

    Over the past ten years or so several new slogans related to the sustainable management of tropical forests have entered the popular lexicon. ‘Rainforest harvest’, ‘green marketing’ and ‘use or lose it’ all refer to the essential principle that the best way to ensure the maintenance of the tropical forests (and their biodiversity) is to make them economically relevant to nearby residents. Dove (1993) has labelled this the ‘rainforest crunch thesis’, after one of the better known internationally marketed rainforest products that emerged at the end of the 1980s. The underlying reasoning of the thesis is multifaceted. One aspect is...

  3. (pp. 17-44)

    This chapter examines the results and findings of research and project reports on broadly conceived socio-political interactions between the process of NTFP commercialisation and people. Commercialisation has been associated with efforts to politically empower and economically advance some of the most disadvantaged sections of society – poor peasants, the landless, rural women and indigenous (or tribal) peoples. The literature tends to link NTFP commercialisation with larger questions of social justice, social welfare, land reform, rural poverty and political empowerment. Adding to the magnitude of the research and policy scope, individual projects and studies reviewed do not always share a common...

  4. (pp. 45-76)

    Enquiries into the commercialisation of NTFP resources touch, not surprisingly, on many issues of economy including production, trade, consumption, efficiency and pricing. However, the theory and methodology of economics, particularly neoclassical economics, are most commonly employed in this literature to argue three distinct though related points: 1) NTFPs have economic value; 2) there are predictable paths of price and quantity over time as resources are depleted; and 3) the benefits of NTFP resource exploitation are distributed, often inequitably, throughout trade networks. Specifically, the principal economic questions in this context are: the potential value of NTFP resources; the actual contribution of...

  5. (pp. 77-100)

    The challenge of managing forests for commercial NTFPs is to promote economic development by maintaining and even increasing production while simultaneously maintaining or improving ecological conditions. The discussion of forest management, therefore, encompasses a wide range of social, economic, political and ecological questions. Setting the level of management intensity, for example, requires an economic assessment weighing the costs of additional inputs against the potential gains. Managing for ‘development’ implies a political decision about the distribution of benefits at various geographic scales, among geographic regions, and among various social groups: classes, ethnicities, men and women. Furthermore, forest management requires, at the...

  6. (pp. 101-126)

    The current wave of policy interest in marketable NTFPs is not the first of the modern era, although one may argue its character is historically unique. The initial search for useful NTFP species drove much of Europe’s scientific explorations and economic enterprises in the tropical regions at least since the late 18th century (Grove 1995). During the era of European colonialism, colonial foresters, district administrators and agricultural officers were dutifully collecting information on local knowledge and uses of forest products and calculating their potential contributions to state revenue or private profit. Rubber, beeswax, quinine and gum arabic were just a...

  7. (pp. 127-147)

    In this final chapter we lay out some of the critical directions for future research. For each of the four issues addressed in the core chapters, we critically examine the theoretical, methodological and empirical implications of the NTFP studies reviewed. We present suggestions on the possibilities for cross-fertilisation from other areas of research, the need for rigorous research design and the importance of clear and explicit theorisation and conceptualisation. These suggestions are derived both from the published insights of experts studying NTFP commercialisation as well as from our own critique of the research we reviewed here. We have organised the...