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Focus on... Non Timber Forest Products

Of the 600 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank estimates that 420 million depend on forests and woodlands for their livelihoods. Many more around the world (up to 1.6 billion) also rely on forests to varying degrees for fuel, food, fodder, medicinal plants, building materials, and a source of income. The resource rich forests with a multitude of nutritious nuts, fruits, and fungi, known as 'non-timber forest products' (NFTPs), also play a vital role in combating food insecurity in forest communities.

However, timber extraction, clearance of forests for agriculture and over-harvesting of NFTPs has resulted in a loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation in many forested regions. And yet, in conjunction with the promotion of sustainable forest management policies and the right institutional support, forest communities in affected areas are learning to maximise their use of forest resources whilst conserving the habitat in which they grow. In this edition of New Agriculturist, from the Himalayas in Nepal to the dry forests of Burkina Faso, we highlight just a few of the innovations, entrepreneurial spirit and community commitment to maximising the potential of the forests in which they live.

Plugging NTFPs in the Congo Basin

Plugging NTFPs in the Congo Basin

The Congo Basin rainforests are a vital source of non-timber forest products (NFTPs) for both rural and urban populations, and yet forest policy concentrates largely on timber extraction. However, a new report has evaluated the real value of NFTPs to local communities and recommends a revised approach.

Date published: September 2007

Mexican mezcal: traditional spirit for sustainable cultivation

Mexican mezcal: traditional spirit for sustainable cultivation

Made from agave plants, mezcal is similar to tequila but with a stronger, smokier flavour. Small plots of agave are cultivated by around 14,000 farmers but there is increasing concern that the rising popularity of mezcal is putting wild populations at risk.

Date published: September 2007

Grassroots support for raffia growers in Tanzania

Grassroots support for raffia growers in Tanzania

Raffia is a part of daily life for villagers in Tanzania's Nou forest, but unsustainable practices led to the government banning collection of the versatile palm. Now production has been transformed and the communities are weaving their way to a brighter future.

Date published: September 2007

Yarshagumba: protecting a potent trade

Yarshagumba: protecting a potent trade

Yarshagumba - the so-called "Himalayan Viagra" - is a highly-prized fungus found in the remote highlands of Nepal. With the help of a Kathmandu-based NGO, forest communities have started to regulate the harvesting in order to protect the forests and their livelihoods.

Date published: September 2007

Flourishing trade in Cambodian cane

Flourishing trade in Cambodian cane

In Cambodia, the Cambodian NTFP Development Organization (CAN-DO) is helping to preserve traditional skills, provide sustainable supplementary income, and conserve the forest through placing increased value of intact forest habitats through the Community Handicraft Initiative Project (CHIP).

Date published: September 2007

Going for gold in Burkina Faso

Going for gold in Burkina Faso

Shea nuts can be 'worth their weight in gold' when processed into a range of products, including oil, soap, and butter. But processing also requires hard labour, time, and large supplies of water and firewood. So for the women of Burkina Faso - is it really worth it?

Date published: September 2007

Turning over a new leaf - sustainable papermaking in Nepal

Turning over a new leaf - sustainable papermaking in Nepal

Forest communities in remote areas of Nepal have been given special authorisation to harvest forest products sustainably. This includes bark from the lokta shrub, widely-used in papermaking.

Date published: September 2007

 

 

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