Introduction

market-ntfp-product CIFOR is an international research and global knowledge institution committed to conserving forests and improving the livelihoods of people in the tropics. An important part of CIFORís work has been research to understand the potential of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in conservation and development. An NTFP can be any product (or service) that is produced in forests, other than timber. The term includes fruits and nuts, vegetables, fish and game, medicinal plants, resins, essences and a range of barks and fibres such as bamboo, rattans, and a host of other palms and grasses. CIFOR uses an inclusive definition, including non-timber wood products (e.g., for woodcarving or fuel).

Throughout the world NTFPs contribute to both the subsistence and cash incomes of many poor people. Some NTFPs generate large incomes and employment. Others are much more modest in their total value, but they can be critically important to people, for example as sources of food during hard times, or as the main or only source of cash income in primarily subsistence economies. NTFPs have also attracted attention for their potential role in more environmentally sound use of forests. If the forest is valuable to people, the arguments goes, they will want to conserve it, though some of the articles contained in this CD question this argument.

CIFOR works to understand and to help realize the potential of forests to contribute to livelihoods improvement and to conservation objectives. The research collected here considers many aspects of NTFPs, including their collection, multiple uses, trade, environmental impacts, and the role and influence of policy. This collection offers breadth and depth of understanding, and many different perspectives on the issues. We hope that having this repository of work, from individual case studies to international comparative analyses, will help advance the field by informing practitioners and other researchers about the many products, stakeholders and systems, and about problems and solutions experienced under a wide range of conditions.