Skip to Content

Non-timber forest product

« Back to Glossary Index

**1. Definitions and Categories:**
– NTFPs include mushrooms, huckleberries, ferns, pine nuts, moss, maple syrup, cinnamon, rubber, wild pigs, tree oils, and ginseng.
– NTFPs are any resources found in woodlands except timber, including wild and managed game, fish, and insects.
– NTFPs are grouped into categories like floral greens, decoratives, medicinal plants, foods, fibers, and saps.

**2. Economic Importance and Statistics:**
– NWFPs generated US$88 billion in 2011, with around 1 billion people worldwide depending on wild foods.
– The maple syrup industry in the US yielded US$38.3 million in 2002.
– NTFPs in tropical forests can yield higher revenue than timber harvest.
– Wild edible mushrooms, medicinal plants, and floral greens are multimillion-dollar industries in temperate forests.

**3. Uses and Harvesting:**
– NTFPs are harvested for subsistence, cultural traditions, well-being, cooking, medicine, income, and more.
– Harvesting terms include wild-crafting, gathering, and foraging.
– NTFPs serve industries from pharmaceuticals to microenterprises, with forests hosting over 28,000 medicinal plant species.
– Forest visits positively impact human health and spirituality.

**4. Impacts on People:**
– Gendered differences exist in the collection and sale of NWFPs, with women often collecting forest foods for household nutrition.
– Empowering women in NWFP activities positively impacts household nutrition.
– Different ethnic minority communities are involved in collecting and using forest NTFPs.
– NTFPs can promote conservation, sustainable forest management, and local development.

**5. Research and Further Reading:**
– NTFPs are viewed as commodities for rural incomes and markets, crucial for sustainable forest management and conservation, and can aid in poverty alleviation.
– Traditional knowledge is expressed through NTFPs, serving as a livelihood option for rural household needs.
– Various research articles and studies provide insights into the economic values and benefits of NTFPs.
– Further reading includes resources on wild food plants in poverty alleviation, certification, management, and the economic aspects of NTFPs.

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are useful foods, substances, materials and/or commodities obtained from forests other than timber. Harvest ranges from wild collection to farming. They typically include game animals, fur-bearers, nuts, seeds, berries, mushrooms, oils, sap, foliage, pollarding, medicinal plants, peat, mast, fuelwood, fish, insects, spices, and forage. Overlapping concepts include non-wood forest products (NWFPs), wild forest products, minor forest produce, special, minor, alternative and secondary forest products – for further distinctions see the definition section below

Dried Mahua flowers
Tendu patta (leaf) collection

Research on NTFPs has focused on their ability to be produced as commodities for rural incomes and markets, as an expression of traditional knowledge or as a livelihood option for rural household needs, as a key component of sustainable forest management and conservation strategies, and for their important role in improving dietary diversity and providing nutritious food, particularly for forest-proximate peoples. All research promotes forest products as valuable commodities and tools that can promote the conservation of forests.

NTFPs in particular highlight forest products which are of value to local people and communities, but have been overlooked in the wake of forest management priorities (for example, timber production and animal forage). For example, some 2.4 billion people – in both urban and rural settings – use wood-based energy for cooking. Different communities are involved in collecting and using forest NTFPs, often with different minority communities or gender roles determining how they are used.

In recent decades, interest has grown in using NTFPs as alternatives or supplements to forest management practices. In some forest types, under the right political and social conditions, forests can be managed to increase NTFP diversity, and consequently, to increase biodiversity and potentially economic diversity. Black truffle cultivation in the Mediterranean area is highly profitable when well managed.

« Back to Glossary Index