The magnitude of the forests contribution to the lives of rural people is now understood in general terms. The forest provides a wide range of direct and indirect benefits. However, to comprehend forest resources contribution to communities income and well-being, their individual and collective value must be accurately assessed on the local and regional levels. The Community Forestry Programme of the Planning and Institutions Service, Forestry Department is working to develop the understanding of the social, economic and cultural importance of non timber forest products in different regions throughout the developing world.
Evaluating the use of forest products will provide a solid base of knowledge. As such, this paper is a beginning; one which, it is hoped, will serve as an example for other regional studies that stress the importance of this type of information and provide a foundation upon which participatory development projects advocating multipurpose forest management can be designed. By implementing programmes that meet traditionally important needs, non-consumptive, sustainable use of forest land will become more attractive to forest users.
The research for this study was carried-out by Julia Falconer in West Africa, Paris, and at the FAO in Rome. Her work has greatly added to the understanding of the variety and range of products used in the humid zone of West Africa. The book was edited by Carla R.S. Koppell. Funding for this work was provided by the FAO/SIDA Forests, Trees, and People Programme. The Forest, Trees, and People Trust Fund Programme develops methods, approaches and tools that support rural peoples efforts to improve their own well-being through tree and forest management. Within FAO the Programme is coordinated by Marilyn W. Hoskins, Senior Forestry Officer for Community Forestry, Planning and Institutions Service, Forestry Department.
M.R. de Montalembert
Planning and Institutions Service