Nontimber Forest Products in the Rural Household Economy
Among the multiple outputs of forests, the category labeled nontimber forest products, or NTFPs, has drawn increased policy and research attention during the past 20 years. NTFPs have become recognized for their importance in the livelihoods of the many relatively poor households who live in or near forests, especially in the tropics. Policy concern about NTFPs takes two forms. On the one hand, collection of relatively high-volume, low-value NTFPs, such as fuelwood, fodder, and mulch, has raised concerns about degradation of the forest resource, potentially resulting in hardships for households and negative environmental externalities. On the other hand, collection of relatively high-value, low-volume NTFPs, such as specialty food products, inputs to cosmetics and crafts, and medicinal plants, has drawn interest as an activity that could raise standards of living while being compatible with forest conservation. Addressing these policy concerns requires an improved "understanding of how households interact with natural resources and how one can affect household behavior in desired ways" (Ferraro and Kramer 1997: 207).