No forest without timber?

A. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The spotlight on NTFPs has changed the face of forestry, but is also a product of its time, emerging in the context of increasingly pluralistic forest management. Early hopes that NTFPs would underpin rural livelihoods, and rescue rural populations from poverty while providing them with a reason to protect and manage forests, led to exaggerated claims of economic potential. They also tended to overlook the great diversity of products referred to, in terms of biological characteristics, and social and economic value, whilst simultaneously ascribing unreasonably lofty and altruistic goals to some of the world's poorest people. This overview of the contributions to this special issue of IFR points to the more sophisticated understanding of NTFP potential that has been acquired since the early 1990s. Focus on differences among NTFPs has led to literature around more specific groupings, such as 'bushmeat', 'indigenous forest fruits', or 'medicinal plants', each providing a more useful lens for assessing ways in which such products lead to sustainable rural livelihoods and forest management. However, contemplation of NTFPs as a group reminds us that forestry is a complex multi-stakeholder management system, wherein a focus on any one subset of components cannot ignore the ecological and social systems of which they form part. The methodological developments portrayed here advocate a more systemic approach, combining biological and economic approaches with NTFP users' own perceptions and knowledge within adaptive forest management, thereby side-stepping the hazards of the NTFP category.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Forestry Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003


  • Commercialisation
  • Conservation
  • NTFPs
  • Policy
  • Poverty alleviation
  • Rural livelihoods
  • Sustainable use


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