Una de gato: fate and future of a Peruvian forest resource

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Uncaria tomentosa and U. guíanensis have been important in traditional healing in many South American countries. These species contain some sixty active substances which are widely tested for possible medical treatments. U. tomentosa has been traded from Peru until it reached a peak export of 726 tonnes in 1996. Government agencies and private companies have dedicated considerable efforts in trying to enhance production and sales of these species. At the national level, there has been pressure put on the government to allow legislation to prohibit the sales of the raw material of these species to capture larger shares of benefits for the national economy. Initially false conservation arguments were used as there is sufficient evidence to argue that at current harvesting levels there is no threat to the two species. Regional government agencies have promoted the production of the two species without having a clear picture of future demand, allowing the possibility that much of the future production will not have any demand. Both actions may possibly negatively affect the benefits that accrue to local collectors or producers.

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