Wild Product Governance: laws and policies for sustainable and equitable non-timber forest product use
By Sarah A. Laird, Rachel Wynberg, Rebecca J. McLain
This policy brief discusses laws and policies relevant to sustainable and equitable non-timber forest product use.
The policy brief is a collaboration between the United Nations University - Institute of Advanced Studies (via the Traditional Knowledge Initiative), Centre for International Forestry Research, People and Plants International, Environmental Evaluation Unit, University of Cape Town and the Insitute for Culture and Ecology. It draws from the book Wild Product Governance: finding policies that work for non-timber forest products to be published by Earthscan in 2010 as part of the People and Plants series.
People have long developed and depended upon useful species from diverse ecosystems. Even today, botanical (or ‘non-timber forest’) products (NTFPs) provide critical subsistence and trade goods for forest and other communities.
In many areas, NTFPs are the main source of cash to pay school fees, buy medicines, purchase equipment and supplies, and even buy food. However, NTFPs have been both overlooked and poorly regulated by governments. Laws tend to be inconsistent and confusing, with little resembling a policy ’framework’ or strategy. Many are opportunistic or drafted in response to perceived threats, and rarely do regulations follow from consultations with stakeholders or careful analysis of the complex factors involved in the sustainability and equity of NTFP management, use and trade.
Despite wide variations in cultural, economic and political conditions, experiences with NTFP law and policy are remarkably similar around the world, and are characterized by common regulatory features. This finding applies to both developed and developing countries, and includes regions that still have strong traditional and subsistence use of NTFPs and those that may have reduced their dependence on NTFPs, but have recently ‘rediscovered’ natural products.
Case studies which contributed to this project include those from Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Fiji, Finland, India, Mexico, the Philippines, southern Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Important lessons for policy makers, NGOs, community groups, and others working with NTFPs include the need for better information, simplification, clarity, and consistency in NTFP policy frameworks.
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