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Forest products and traditional peoples: Economic, biological, and cultural considerations

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Conservationists and environmental economists have promoted the extraction of non–timber forest products (NTFP) as an alternative to forest conversion and as a means to benefit forest peoples. This article discusses the development of NTFP economic analyses and some economic, biological and socio–cultural constraints on the use of forest resources and methodological limitations of NTFP investigations. Several case studies document the importance of the forest in both North and South America. While studies differ in their conclusions regarding the sustainability of NTFP extraction, most researchers agree that sustainable harvesting is rare. The article argues for additional considerations that transcend the biological and economic concerns. While forests provide the basis of material culture for peoples that inhabit them, they are also linked intrinsically to the religion, mythology, and psyche of native peoples. Conservationists have an ethical obligation to consider the needs and desires of these people in conjunction with conservation and management plans.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA

Publication date: 2002-11-01

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