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Open Access Invisible but viable: recognising local markets for non-timber forest products

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An emphasis on global markets for non-timber forest products (NTFPs) often overshadows attention to the local trade in many traditionally important products. Inattention to local markets can result in diminished appreciation of their role in supporting livelihoods and potentially lead to further marginalisation of the low-income groups involved. This paper draws on the literature and the research experience of the authors in three different regions of the world to demonstrate the significance of local markets for NTFPs and to build a case for recognising and strengthening support to them. Discussion includes: features of these markets and current trends favouring them; the benefits they bring to producers and traders; their comparative advantages and disadvantages in relation to their role in strengthening livelihoods; and the policy reforms and development support required to improve them. We conclude that a combination of both strong local and export markets permits diversification and choice, assisting poor local people to minimise livelihood risk due to dependence on any single market.

Keywords: NTFPs; global markets; local markets; non-timber forest products; rural livelihoods

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 6140, South Africa and Centre for International Forestry Research. 2: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), P.O. Box 6596 JKPWB Jakarta, 10065, Indonesia. 3: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Regional Office for Central Africa, BP 2008, Yaound, Cameroon.

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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