International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Book Review: Poverty Reduction Through Non-Timber Forest Products

26 Dec 2018

Two stories from INBAR’s project work included in new ebook, ‘Poverty Reduction Through Non-Timber Forest Products’, available to purchase here

Chosen to be the very first of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is ‘Ending Poverty.’ This central goal is the focus of the intimate and surprising personal stories of empowerment contained in this new book published by Springer and edited by The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). The new book is part of the Sustainable Development Series, which provides and in-depth look at a wide range of solutions to pressing global challenges.

The path to achieving the SDGs is littered with hidden obstacles, stumbling blocks and pitfalls, not least among them the oft-discussed conflict between economic development and environmental protection. How can communities raise themselves out of poverty without putting even more pressure on their already strained natural resources? How can livelihoods be good for people, and goof for the planet? In this book, some intriguing solutions are put forward by contributors from all over the world, with one thing in common – they all have found real cases where the natural environment, specifically Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP), have been exploited to improve livelihoods in a way that doesn’t cost the Earth. These non-timber forest products, often forgotten by national poverty reduction plans, can include wild plant and animal products, such as firewood, wild fruits, nuts, edible roots, small mammals, insects, honey, palm, medicinal plants, mushrooms, and of course, bamboo and rattan, which are not classified biologically as timber,  but instead as grasses. The beauty of NTFP is of course that in order for associated livelihoods to be sustainable, the forest itself must be protected to conserve the products themselves: This is abundantly clear in the book, as is the deep connection that local people often find with the forest in which they live. In addition, these products are sometimes turned to as a’last resort’ by rural communities faced with economic crisis or climate insecurity, and thus can provide an important safety net for vulnerable groups.

The two stories that INBAR has contributed to this book follow two young women in India, Miraben and Gira(left), as they navigate poverty and difficult family circumstances to use bamboo to transform their lives with depleting local timber resources. Miraben has forged a successful business making bamboo furniture with her husband, and Gira has been able to rise to a respected status in her community by selling incense sticks.

Bamboo is an especially valuable non-timber forest resource because of its fast growth and ability to bind tightly to soil, reducing soil erosion. Of course, the personal story told here isn’t the whole story: training programs from INBAR helped both these women, and strengthening bamboo resources can also foster other non-timber forest resources, such as Aloe Vera.

Other highlights of the book include an emotive tale of a Peruvian farmer who has paid for his siblings’ education by collecting brazil nuts; two different stories about honey production; and intriguing story about palm wine production in Cameroon. Cases are each presented as stories, but of course are rigorously researched. This detailed research into forestry and socio-economic development is key to understanding just how our precious forest resources can help us, and how we can help them.

This new book exemplifies INBAR and SARCHI’s shared goals of green,includive development that leaves no-one behind, and brings together valuable, detailed research on these key resources for poverty alleviation.

To buy this book online, click here.