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Non-timber forest products and conservation: what prospects?


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Non-timber forest products have been hailed as a ‘silver bullet’ for sustainable development and forest conservation, because of the significance of forest products as both food and income for rural dwellers, but evidence from this presentation’s core study suggests that harvesting of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is failing to meet goals for combining conservation and poverty alleviation. NTFPs can have a role in rural livelihoods, especially through multiple-use sustainable forestry projects, but these require long-term investments and complex co-management approaches. CIFOR scientist Terry Sunderland gave this presentation at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, held in Bonito, Brazil on 19 June 2012.

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Non-timber forest products and conservation: what prospects?

  1. 1. Non-timber forest products and conservation: what prospects? Terry  C.H.  Sunderland,  Ousseynou  Ndoye  and  Susan  Tarka  Sanchez     49th  Annual  Mee-ng  of  the  ATBC    THINKING beyond the canopy Bonito,  Brazil,  19th  June  2012    
  2. 2. This presentation… §  Sunderland, T.C.H., S. Harrison & O. Ndoye. 2011. NTFPs and conservation: what prospects? In: S. Shackleton, C. Shackleton & P. Shanley (eds) Non-timber forest products in the global context. Springer- Verlag, Berlin. THINKING beyond the canopy
  3. 3. Summary§  NTFPs hailed as “silver bullet” for sustainable forest conservation§  Many conservation interventions still rely on NTFP “development” for alternative livelihoods§  However, evidence suggests that the NTFP/conservation linkages are tenuous THINKING beyond the canopy
  4. 4. Brief history of NTFP/conservation paradigm §  Colonial expansion led by novel forest products that became agricultural commodities §  “Boom and bust” nature of production systems often characterised by elite capture and exclusion (Homma 1992; Dove 1993) §  Revisionist “Rainforest Harvest” theory of 1980’s, led in part by “extractive reserve” model where high value forest products and established markets coincided THINKING beyond the canopy
  5. 5. NTFP’s and rural livelihoods §  Significant value of forest products to rural dwellers and often keystone of food and nutritional security §  Often provides only means to access cash economy §  Recent global study suggests that one fifth of rural income is derived from forest products (CIFOR’s Poverty and Environment Network) THINKING beyond the canopy
  6. 6. Is NTFP harvesting sustainable?§  It depends….§  Factors to consider: tenure, plant part harvested, intensity, long-term management and monitoring§  Unfortunately, very few examples where sustainable management of individual resources have taken place in the context of the individual resource and wider ecosystem§  Even high value forest products (e.g. Prunus africana) are harvested without a basic understanding of long- term impacts of exploitation§  Very little investment in sustainable multiple-use forestry: co-management THINKING beyond the canopy
  7. 7. NTFPs and protected areas (PA’s)§  Exponential increase in PA’s globally (now 11.5% of terrestrial surface)§  8.4% of land area are IUCN I-IV classifications, thus annexed from human use (conflict and non-compliance)§  Clear advocacy for “wild nature” over sustainable use§  If NTFPs and conservation are compatible, why is this the case? THINKING beyond the canopy
  8. 8. Transition from natural forests to “domestic” forests§  Low density of NTFPs in natural forests§  Transition from “nature to culture” (Dove 1995) and anthropogenic landscapes§  Domestic forests (e.g. peri-urban forests of Belem (Brazil) or rubber agroforests of Sumatra (Indonesia))§  Simplification of production systems§  Thus NTFP extractive systems not reliant on biodiversity per se THINKING beyond the canopy
  9. 9. Constraints to NTFP contribution to biodiversity conservation §  Estimates of non-timber “value” greatly over-exaggerated (c.f. Peters et al. 1989, Nature) §  Commercialisation often leads to appropriation and depletion §  Increased demand + resource scarcity = cultivation or substitution §  Thus “value” of biodiversity-rich forests is reduced §  NTFP-based income often part of the informal forestry sector; the “hidden harvest” (Laird et al. 2010) §  Erosion of traditional knowledge §  Lack of tenure THINKING beyond the canopy
  10. 10. PEN: A global study of NTFPs§  25 countries§  36 PEN studies§  239 households in the average study§  364 villages or communities surveyed§  2,313 data fields (variables) in the average study§  >10,000 households surveyed§  40,950 household visits by PEN enumerators§  294,150 questionnaire pages filled out and entered§  456,546 data cells (numbers) in the average study§  17,348,734 data cells in the PEN global data base! THINKING beyond the canopy
  11. 11. Value of NTFPs to livelihoods?§  NTFPs classified as “safety nets” but sometimes as “poverty traps”§  Not a pathway out of poverty§  Agriculture and off-farm income more attractive than forest product harvesting alone§  Thus further disassociating integrated conservation and livelihood functions THINKING beyond the canopy
  12. 12. In summary§  Links between NTFPs and biodiversity conservation have been based on simplistic assumptions and generalisations§  Further hindered by separation of protection and sustainable use§  Multiple-use sustainable forestry requires long-term investments and complex co-management approaches THINKING beyond the canopy
  13. 13.     THINKING beyond the canopy