The utilization and management of African rattans: constraints to sustainable supply through cultivation

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The thriving commercial trade in rattan and rattan products is worth an estimated US$10 million per annum in Central Africa alone. Although the harvest and use of rattan products provides income and employment to many people reliant on forest products, their uncontrolled exploitation, coupled with habitat loss, has led to considerable resource depletion. Recent attempts to improve rattan sustainability in West and Central Africa have focused on farmer-based trials aimed at product intensification through on-farm cultivation. Our findings show that although the cultivation of these resources has proven economic and ecological potential, particularly in multi-strata agroforestry systems, farmer adoptability has, up until now, proven to be low due to the influence of a wide range of socio-economic factors, notably land and resource tenure issues and the reluctance of farmers to try new, untested, crops. While the rattan resource continues to be a valuable source of income for rural livelihoods, with continued exploitation the long-term prospects for sustainable harvest of the resource itself remain uncertain.

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