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Improving the management of commercial non-timber forest products in Cambodia for the benefit of local communities
Improving the management of commercial non-timber forest products in cambodia for the benefit of local communities non-timber forest products (NTFPs) play an important role in the livelihoods of rural communities in tropical forest areas. This study in Cambodia identified issues that limit local people's sustainable management of NTFPs. These included access to resources and markets, unsustainable extractive activities, demographic pressure, lack of information on market demands, prices, royalties and authorization systems too complex to be applied at the local level. In Central and Eastern Cambodia, participatory approaches were used to interview NTFP collectors in 16 villages in 4 provinces. During focus groups and community meetings, choices and preferences were debated. Herbarium samples of NTFPs that local people consider important were also collected from the forests near each of the villages. The study revealed that information on the location of the villages, population density, ethnic groups, village context (recent situation in terms of infrastructure and private sector investments), and the condition of the forest all need to be taken into account when developing activities to improve NTFP management, uses and trade. A step-by-step approach should include identifying NTFPs as important to the local economy and as the extractive activity with the smallest negative impact on the forest. The study concluded with a recommendation to develop a collectors' network, to plant important and depleted NTFP species, and to develop processed products from NTFP raw materials.